Why exercise can help people with cancer

Research shows that exercise has many benefits for people during and after cancer treatment.

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Why exercise is good for people with cancer

People with cancer should be as physically active as their abilities and condition allow. Some days may be harder than others, but even a few minutes of light exercise is better than no exercise at all. You may want to work out two exercise plans – one for your good days, and another for those days when you are experiencing strong side effects.

Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have bone cancer or if you have any persistent treatment-related side effects, such as lymphoedema (swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid), shortness of breath, nerve damage, skin irritation, fatigue or pain. Your doctor can advise whether you need a modified exercise program.

If you have severe anaemia, high fever or severe weight loss, your doctor may recommend you delay starting an exercise program until your condition improves.

If you are already very active at the time of the cancer diagnosis, talk to your doctor and an exercise professional about how you can retain your fitness during and after treatment.

To help your doctors and exercise professionals fine-tune your exercise program, you could try keeping a diary to record your physical activity, other activities (such as work or socialising), and side effects. Over time, this will help them recommend the best exercise program for you. There are various ways you can track your physical activity.


Why exercise is good in general

Exercise has many general benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. It can:

  • strengthen muscles and bones and improve circulation
  • help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight
  • improve your energy levels
  • improve your mobility and balance
  • improve appearance and self-esteem
  • help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression
  • provide new opportunities to meet people and socialise
  • reduce the risk of, or help manage, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults urge everyone to move more and sit less. Physical activity is any activity that gets your body moving and speeds up your breathing and heartbeat. It includes not only structured exercise sessions, but also everyday activities such as housework.

Adults should usually aim to be active for at least 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days of the week. The guidelines recommend a weekly total of 2½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, along with strength-training (resistance) activities twice a week. It is also important to break up long periods of sitting as often as you can.


Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on exercise for people living with cancer.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in April 2016
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Life after cancer treatment
Programs and support for people who have finished treatment

ENRICH – a free healthy lifestyle program
A face-to-face exercise and nutrition program for cancer survivors

Cancer information

Nutrition and cancer
How to eat well during and after cancer treatment

Staying healthy after treatment
Lifestyle changes that can help keep you in good health

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends

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