Is It Safe to Start Exercising After Treatment?  

Hurray! You just walked out of your last cancer treatment! Depending on the amount of time that has passed since your original diagnosis, you have spent several months or more trapped in what often felt like a never-ending nightmare. There have been times when you questioned ever making it through but, finally, here you are. Now, you can go home or head to the beach or book a cruise and just do nothing for a long, much-deserved rest. Right?

Maybe not…

Actually, you probably weren’t thinking that at all. Becoming the next cancer survivor and making it through treatment is a major turning point. Life rarely goes back to the way it was before diagnosis. The vast majority of those that have walked this path before you have found a new priority in life and it is twofold; getting the most out of each additional moment that has been given to you and keeping cancer from returning.

Common sense and current research agree that exercise for cancer patients will help for both. It’s fairly obvious that your level of fitness can only add to being able to enjoy the things in life that are most important. Exercise will certainly help with that. As for the benefits of exercise for those who have completed cancer treatment, multiple studies are confirming that exercise can increase energy levels, improve quality of life, decrease fatigue and reduce the chances of cancer returning.

According to Kerry Courneya, PhD, professor and Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Cancer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, “Several recent studies suggest that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced risk of the cancer coming back, and a longer survival after a cancer diagnosis.”

In fact, it is now believed that exercise during treatment can also be beneficial for your health care.  Research strongly suggests that it is safe, both during and after cancer treatment, and that it can make a positive difference in how you feel and how your body responds and tolerates treatment. Of course, the type and level of exercise will depend on your overall health and should only be started after getting your doctor’s approval.

Types of Exercises for Cancer Patients

Suggestions for types of exercise that can help cancer patients include:

  • Flexibility Exercises – this is primarily stretching, designed to aid in maintaining mobility.
  • Aerobic Exercise – also known as cardio, strengthens the heart and lungs.  Walking, jogging, swimming and similar aerobic exercise lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, as well as promoting weight loss.
  • Resistance Training – use of weights or isometric exercises, which build muscle, important because people lose muscle, but gain fat, during cancer treatment.

If you did not exercise consistently before your cancer diagnosis or, even if you did, getting started on an exercise program during or following treatment may feel like more than you can manage. Life is hectic and demanding without cancer: throw it in the mix and everything can feel overwhelming. The good news is that exercise can help alleviate that feeling. The benefits can be significant. You don’t have to train for marathons. All you have to do is just get started.

If you would like to learn more about this, please watch the following video: