How Exercise Can Help Improve Fatigue

You may be thinking how exercise can help me when I am struggling with everyday tasks. Yes, exercise can drain your energy, but regular consistent exercise will keep you fit and healthy, making it easier to achieve everyday tasks. Too much time spent resting or sitting can cause loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. 

Fatigue may happen if cancer treatment damages healthy cells in addition to the cancer cells. Or as your body works to repair damage caused by treatment. Research shows that for most people exercise is safe and helpful before, during, and after cancer treatment. It can help improve your quality of life as well as your energy levels. Physical activity may also help you cope with side effects of treatment. 

More benefits include: 

  • Help your body and brain work better
  • Help lessen depression and anxiety
  • Might help you sleep better
  • Keep or improve your physical ability to get things done
  • Improve your muscle strength, bone health and range of motion
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Increase your appetite
  • Help you get to and maintain a healthy weight
  • May help with lymphodema

Exercise does not need to be an intense one hour workout, it can be very simple. The goal is to stay as active as you can. Do not worry if you can not cope with any exercise, there are some simple sitting exercises that can help with muscle loss and weakness. 

Here is a list of different types of exercises you can try: 

Sitting Exercises

 

Leg exercise:

  • Keep both knees together with your feet on the floor. Straighten one leg out in front of you.
  • Hold for one second, then slowly re-bend the leg until the foot is resting on the floor again.
  • Repeat on the other leg. Do a few extensions with each leg.

Arm exercise: 

  • Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, with your thumbs pointed towards the ceiling.
  • Draw your elbows back, squeezing the shoulder blades together, until your upper arms align with the sides of your torso.
  • Extend your arms back to the start position.
  • Repeat a few times.
Strength Exercises

Sideways leg lift

  • Rest your hands on the back of a chair.
  • Raise your left leg to the side as far as you can, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right.
  • Return to the starting position. Now raise your right leg to the side as far as possible.
Or try squats and lunges - you can hold onto a chair for balance. 

 

Flexibility Exercises

  • Neck rotations and stretching 
  • Shoulder Rolls
  • Yoga

Try this whenever your back or chest feels stiff:

  • Stand up straight and open your arms wide, tilt your head back and push your chest forwards. Take a deep breath in.
  • Breathe out and as you do so nod your head to your chest, clasp your upper arm with the opposite hand as if hugging yourself and hunch your back forwards.

 Balance Exercises 

  • Walking heel to toe.
  • Single limb stance. Hold onto a chair and lift one leg up. Keep practicing until you can balance without a chair. 
  • Sideways walking. Step sideways in a slow and controlled manner, moving one foot to the side first.

 

Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.