Exercise for people living with cancer
If you are being treated for cancer or recovering, you may think it’s important to rest, but research shows that exercise benefits most people with cancer. Learn more about exercise, and the benefits of physical activity before, during and after cancer treatment.
Research shows that exercise benefits most people with cancer before, during and after treatment.
Before you start exercise, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best exercise for you, how much to do and any precautions you should take.
Learn how aerobic and cardio exercise may improve side effects, mood and energy levels.
Strength and resistance training uses weights or other resistance to increase the size, strength and endurance of your muscles, and to strengthen bones.
We naturally lose joint and muscle flexibility as we age, but cancer treatments also contribute to this. Regular stretching helps to improve stiffness and flexibility.
Balance exercises help you to be stable while standing, walking or doing other activity.
Your pelvic floor muscles stretch from the bottom of your pelvis and support your bowel, bladder, and uterus for females.
These websites are good sources of support and information for people exercising during and after cancer treatment.
Questions for your health team
- Is there any reason why I could not exercise during my treatment?
- Are there any precautions I should take or types of exercise I should avoid?
- What precautions should I take if I have a port, PICC line, chemotherapy pump or stoma?
- I haven’t exercised much before. Do I need to have any general health checks first?
- Can you recommend an exercise professional who has experience helping people with cancer?
- Can you help me to get a chronic disease management plan, and a referral to an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist?
Questions for your exercise professionals
- What are your qualifications? Are you an ESSA accredited exercise physiologist or an APC accredited physiotherapist?
- Have you completed training focused on exercise for people with cancer?
- Can you talk to my medical team about my exercise program?
- What will you consider when preparing an exercise program for someone with my medical history?
- I would like to start slowly and build up this program, is that okay?
- How will I know that I am doing the exercises correctly?
- What should I do if I feel pain when exercising?
- What if I feel too unwell to exercise?
- How long might it be before I start to see some benefits from this exercise program?
- How many appointments am I likely to need?
- How can I exercise safely to avoid COVID-19? Do you have HEPA filters in your gym or a fresh air option? Can I use a mask? Do you have a carbon dioxide monitor to show me how well ventilated your gym is?