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Exercise and Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer is always a scary one and it often causes people to freeze and cease any former activity and exercise. Although every 4 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with cancer, only one in ten of those diagnosed will exercise enough during and after their cancer treatment. Research indicates that exercise can greatly improve physical and mental wellbeing during treatment.

Benefits of Exercise during cancer treatment

Not only is exercise safe and helpful before, during and after cancer treatment, but it can help improve your quality of life and energy. Depending on your strength and ability, even a few minutes of light exercise is better than no exercise at all.

  • Cancer patients who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe side effects from treatments and they also have a lower relative risk of cancer recurrence. 

  • Exercise reduces treatment related fatigue 

  • Exercise maintains heart and lung fitness, physical ability and strength.  

  • Certain exercise builds stronger bones 

  • Exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves quality of life. 

  • After surgery for lung cancer, exercise decreases the amount of recovery time needed in the hospital.

How to exercise safely during your treatment 


  • Start off slowly with the help of your physiotherapist or trainer. Every patient has different levels of strength and energy, and an exercise program should be worked out according to your ability level. 

  • Listen to your body and monitor the amount of exercise you do after treatment days, and on days you are feeling stronger, the level can be increased. 

Types of exercise  


  • Cardiovascular exercise refers to workouts that raise your heart rate, strengthening your heart and lungs which can help you feel less tired during treatment.  

  • Balance exercises can be done to help your stability which prevent falls and injuries. 

  • Strength training is important as muscle loss often occurs with less activity during cancer treatment and recovery. Some cancer treatments also cause muscle and bone weakness. Strength and resistance training, and weight bearing exercises help to maintain and build strong muscles and build stronger bones. 

Increasing muscle mass can help improve your balance, reduce fatigue, and make it easier to do daily activities. 

  • Stretching can help to improve your flexibility, posture, and blood flow.  

If you have had a diagnosis of cancer and would like to have an exercise program worked out for your specific needs please contact your physio at Bell Place Physiotherapy (07)5530 3411 



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