Just because you have been diagnosed with cancer, doesn’t mean that you have to stop exercising.
If you don’t exercise, there isn’t a better time to start. The word exercise is often feared by even the healthiest individuals, so it’s hard to imagine how you will be able to exercise when having cancer treatment. But you can. And you should. You just have to adapt things slightly, and prefer to call it physical activity.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine Round Table 2018, exercise during cancer treatment is safe and inactivity should be avoided. There is also a growing body of evidence that supports physical activity during and after cancer treatment, and it should actually be prescribed by your oncologist when you are initially diagnosed.
Your oncologist should have a network of physiotherapists or fitness professionals as part of their multi-disciplinary team, who are specifically trained to give you a personalised exercise programme that will keep you physically and mentally motivated during your treatment. Every individual programme must be tailored to your treatment, your goals, your interests and your side effects.
Physical activity will help to reduce the side effects of treatment (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy); help you to maintain a base level of fitness; improve mood; reduce fatigue; and significantly reduce your risk of recurrence in the future.
There are a number of programmes you can join that involve fun, safe and guided activities in small groups: Pilates, stand-up paddling, yoga, walking, step and balance classes to name a few. These are all safe options when done under the guidance of your oncology rehab therapist.
If you haven’t got a physiotherapist overseeing your fitness routine, be sure to ask your oncologist who they recommend.
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