Diseases & Conditions

7 Reasons to Exercise When You Have Cancer

By on 06/01/2018

There are benefits to being physically active if you are currently being treated for cancer. There are also advantages after treatment has been completed. Exercise can improve how you feel and how you function – and it may enhance your overall quality of life.

Of course, you should discuss plans for doing any type of physical activity with your doctor before beginning. It’s important to make sure that what you are doing is safe, and that your chosen activity is appropriate for your current strength, endurance and fitness levels.

Here are 7 benefits of exercising during and after cancer treatment:

  1. Strengthens muscles – A lack of activity can decrease the amount of muscle in your body, making it harder to perform everyday activities. Exercise helps you maintain or improve muscle strength and tone.
  2. Improves balance – This makes it less likely that you’ll fall, which can result in other complications such as broken bones.
  3. Reduces treatment side effects – Physical activity can make you feel less tired, diminish feelings of nausea and reduce other side effects.
  4. Helps control weight – Being sedentary can lead to unwanted weight gain. Physical activity helps you burn more calories to help prevent this from happening.
  5. Enhances blood flow – One benefit of increased blood flow throughout the body is that it lowers the risk of blood clots by improving circulation to the legs.
  6. Lowers risk of depression and anxiety – Whether you get out and exercise alone, with friends or as part of an organized group, moving your body can reduce the chance that you’ll become depressed or experience feelings of anxiety.
  7. Increases self-esteem – Exercise can make you feel good about yourself. It also feels good to know your body is still capable of doing things you love even during treatment.

When starting any exercise routine, it’s important to start slowly and to listen to your body. Exercise only to the point you are able and rest when you need to. Find activities that are fun so you are doing something good for your overall well-being as well as your body.

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Date Last Reviewed: April 12, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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