When you’re first diagnosed with cancer, exercising will be the last thing on your mind. While undergoing cancer treatment is strenuous on the body and mind, it is also an opportunity to do something you love with the people you love. Physical activity improves the quality of life of cancer survivors because of its benefits. Not only does regular exercise increase cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, but it also has a host of mental benefits including improving symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression, while also enhancing self-esteem and happiness.
Keeping Things Moving During Treatment
Remaining physically active as you undergo cancer treatment is a great tool to lead a happier, healthier life. Gentle physical activity for at least 10 minutes on most days helps to elevate your mood and supports the chemotherapy process. Staying active minimises some of the side effects of chemotherapy, like muscle and bone density loss.
Regular physical activity will also make those chemotherapy visits shorter, and help you recover from treatment faster. If you can’t leave your bed, you can still benefit from gentle stretches. As your loved one’s rally around you, use this time as an opportunity to forge a stronger relationship with family and friends. Invite them to join you in activities you enjoy, whether it’s walking, gardening, or even a playground game. The most important thing is to keep moving and have fun!
Physical Activity After Treatment
Once recovered and declared cancer-free – enjoy it. You’ve just come through a challenging time that’s made you more resilient. During this stage, its crucial to slowly increase your physical movement at a pace that you are comfortable with. This will help you recover faster and improve your health and fitness and allow you to return to your usual schedule with your new-found perspective on life.
Cancer survivors are at a higher risk of redeveloping cancer or developing chronic illness, but this risk is lowered if you follow these guidelines:
- Exercise at least 150 minutes per week. This can be anything from housework to hula hooping – just keep moving
- Include strength training at least 2 days per week to keep you feeling strong
Being diagnosed with cancer is a scary and stressful event. But trying times are also an opportunity to recalibrate your life towards a healthier, happier, grateful, and more fulfilled you.
Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors (American Cancer Society)