Thursday 28 January, 2021

3 Tips for Exercising while Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Lindsy, based in Canada, a mother and breast cancer survivor.

When you’re first diagnosed with cancer there are about a hundred things that run through your mind. For many, whether or not you should be exercising during cancer treatment might be one of them. Not because you are worried about your physical fitness per se, gaining weight or how you look – but usually because you want to give yourself the best fighting chance at beating this thing, and exercise can be one of the tools to get you there. 

Every diagnosis is different, every situation is unique and every person and their background will set them up to experience cancer in their own way. For some, formal exercise during treatment may not be possible, and choosing to rest is the best way to help their bodies through the grueling treatment process. For others, movement and exercise can be used to not only give them a leg up on the physical process, but it can be especially important for the mental and emotional health aspect.

Always, always discuss what’s best for you with your doctors. And always know that there will be a good time to use exercise to help you through treatment and recovery – it just might not be all the time. Ultimately, your body will let you know when you’re ready, if you’re ready. 

Here are 3 of my favorite ways that you can try out to move your body from the comfort of your home.

Stretching. The simple act of stretching your entire body will improve your flexibility and posture. It will help get the blood flowing, improve circulation, deliver oxygen to your muscles and allow your body to recover better. If you’re undergoing surgery, or radiation therapy then stretching can be especially beneficial at getting your mobility back, and helps you get stronger.

Walking. This steady state low intensity exercise can be highly beneficial, and is one of the most accessible forms of physical activity during any stage of cancer treatment. Going for a walk at a comfortable pace is something that you can control based on where you’re at and how your body is feeling, and can be done anywhere, anytime, and at no cost. You can start with as little as a 5 minute stroll around your own property, to going for long walks outside in nature to increase the mental health benefits even further. 

Back to the basics. When it comes to strength training it is most effective to focus on the basics. This can mean squats, lunges, leg lifts and modified push ups. Exercises that help increase lean muscle mass and maintain strength during a particularly challenging time can be highly beneficial by reducing fatigue, decreasing muscle loss, improves balance and makes it easier to do daily activities. Cancer can often make you feel weak, so this is a perfect way to combat that and help make yourself feel stronger. 

Stretching, walking and basic bodyweight strength training moves are the 3 best ways to strengthen your body and improve mental health. Always communicate your intentions with your doctors and follow their advice.

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The information shared does not constitute a medical consultation and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor or other qualified health providers for questions regarding a medical condition, especially during the active period of Corona / Covid19. Please do not disregard professional health provider advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.  In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor, 112 or 911 immediately.

Lindsy, based in Canada, a mother and breast cancer survivor.

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