- There is significant evidence of the benefits of physical activity on cancer recurrence, cancer-related mortality, and overall mortality. Research studies demonstrate that higher levels of physical activity after a cancer diagnosis are associated with a lower risk of disease recurrence and improved survival.
- Particular issues for some cancer survivors may affect their ability to exercise. Some effects of treatment may also increase the risk of exercise-related injuries and adverse effects.
- Survivors who were sedentary before diagnosis should adopt light-intensity activities and advance slowly. Older survivors and those with bone disease (due to skeletal metastases or to severe osteoporosis) or significant impairments such as arthritis or peripheral neuropathy, should pay careful attention to balance to reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
- A roundtable report from the American College of Sports Medicine (2009) suggested that cancer survivors should follow the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which include the following:
- 150 min/week of moderate-intensity or 75 min/week of vigorous-intensity activity, or an equivalent combination.
- Muscle-strengthening activities of at least moderate intensity at least 2 days/week for each major muscle group.
- Stretch major muscle groups and tendons on days other activities are performed.
Current research suggests that cancer survivors who exercise regularly may feel better, have less fatigue, and experience fewer symptoms after treatment, and have improved quality of life compared to those who do not get regular exercise. Cancer survivorship researchers are continuing to explore how exercise can benefit cancer patients and survivors, including lowering the risk of a cancer recurrence. The most important thing is to stay active, even a daily walk can provide benefits.
Here are some suggestions for fitting exercise into your daily routine:
- Start a daily walking routine. Wear a pedometer or a fitness band, and try to go a bit farther each day.
- Walk or bike around your neighborhood on or nearby errands
- Make exercise dates with family, friends, or co-workers.
- Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill.
- Join a yoga class or fit class for stretching and exercise with weights
- Create your own wellness plan that includes exercise and a healthy diet
Your local YMCA or gym may have exercise classes especially for cancer survivors or those which chronic medical conditions. Check the YMCA-LiveStrong map to determine if a YMCA near you offers cancer survivorship conditioning classes.
Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors
Last Updated 5.6.2015
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