Cancer and Exercise

Cancer and Exercise

According to WHO, Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. Regarding the causes of one-thirds of deaths from cancer, lack of physical activity is documented as one of the factors.

Exercise has a crucial role in cancer. Some key points to know are-

  • Researches have shown that exercises boost the response of the immune system. It prepares the body to fight cancer in a better way.
  • Being physically active is linked to decreasing the risk of developing many types of cancer.
  • Exercise brings about positive changes in the mental makeup of patients with cancer. It empowers them to deal with cancer by preventing any stress and anxiety.
  • Exercise prevents any functional decline and helps people with cancer to stay independent and active.
  • Exercise helps in better dealing with fatigue related to cancer and its treatment.
  • Exercise improves sleep problems associated with cancer.
  • Studies have shown that exercise reduces the chances of recurrence of cancer.
  • A combination of flexibility, strength, aerobic, balance, and breathing exercises is beneficial for cancer patients. Stretching improves the flexibility of muscles and improves posture. Strengthening exercises make your muscles strong and help with improved ability to perform activities of daily living. Balance exercises help with mobility. Aerobic and breathing exercises improve oxygenation and hence endurance. To start with, pick any exercise that one enjoys and is easy to do.

Overall, exercise improves the quality of life of people with cancers and cancer survivors too.

Precautions with exercise

  • It is crucial to get an exercise clearance from your oncologist before starting any exercise program. Conditions like low immunity, peripheral neuropathy, lymphoedema, increased fracture risk, severe anemia, and acute infections are some of the contraindications to exercise. Also, allow sufficient time to heal from surgery.
  • Exercise should be done under the guidance of a Cancer Exercise Specialist.
  • Type of exercise depends upon your previous fitness levels, type of cancer, stage of cancer, type of cancer treatment, current body strength, and stamina.
  • Progress slowly. Start with low-intensity exercises.
  • Do include warm-up and cool-down exercises for 5 minutes.
  • Exercise in a safe environment.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel unstable, dizzy, or have difficulty in breathing, stop doing exercise.
  • Maintain good hydration levels.

It is crucial to create awareness about exercise in cancer patients. Exercise helps in battling cancer.


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