Cancer treatment can be exhausting, making it hard to regain your strength. Too much time spent resting or sitting can cause loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. But also strength and muscle mass play an important part in your balance and posture. Doing daily physical activity can help improve your quality of life by helping you cope with the side effects of treatment.
Physical recovery benefits:
- Help your body and brain work better
- Reduce fatigue
- Help lessen depression and anxiety
- Might help you sleep better
- 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 lymphedema
- Improve your quality of life
- Reduce treatment side effects
You might find it hard to get back into exercise, due to fatigue. But even if you feel tired before a workout, a routine strength-building exercise can significantly reduce fatigue over time.
Some days you may not feel up to it and that is fine. Starting small and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workout may help you overcome some of your feelings of resistance and help you build an exercise habit. Take your time and be patient with yourself.
- Even if you can only be active for a few minutes a day it will help you. Increase slowly how often and how long you exercise.
- Don’t push yourself. Listen to your body and rest when you need to. If you feel tired you can try doing 10 minutes of light exercises each day and build up.
- Do not exercise if you feel dizzy or are unsteady on your feet.
- Try short periods of exercise with frequent rest breaks. For example, walk briskly for a few minutes, slow down, and walk briskly again, until you have done 30 minutes of brisk activity. You can also divide your activity into three 10-minute sessions. You’ll still get the benefit of the exercise.
- Do not exercise above a moderate level of exertion without talking with your doctor.
Starting an exercise program can be a big task, even for a healthy person. It may be even harder if you have a chronic illness, especially if you weren’t used to exercising before diagnosis.
Starting with these simple exercises can help make it feel less daunting:
Warm up before doing any of these stretches. Good examples of warm up activities are slowly running in place or walking briskly for a few minutes.
Helps reduce chronic pain and improves the immune system and brain power.
Resistance training (Lifting weights or isometric exercise)
This type of exercise helps rebuild your muscles and improve bone strength.
Many people lose muscle, but gain fat, through cancer treatment. For those with a high fat-to-lean mass ratio, resistance training can be especially helpful.
End your exercise session with stretching or flexibility exercises. Hold a stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds and relax. Examples of stretching are reaching overhead, deep breathing, and bending over to touch your toes so that you relax all the muscle groups.