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Doing Exercise FAQs

  • Before starting any exercise regime is it best to discuss it with your treating doctor or surgeon as there are factors that will determine whether it is advisable for you to exercise or not. 

    Surgery, for example, and rehabilitation could affect your ability to exercise. Although mobilising earlier can improve recovery time, over exerting yourself may prevent healing. 

    Patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapy are usually advised to continue with gentle exercise as it can stimulate your appetite, and help manage fatigue and chemo brain. However, if you are neutropenic (low white cell count), anaemic (low red cell count), or thrombocytopenic (low platelet count), strenuous exercise, or exercising in a gym or outside may be ill advised.
  • Cancer and its treatment can predispose you to fatigue, decreased mood and poor appetite. Maintaining a gentle exercise regime throughout treatment (when safe to do so), has been linked to improved mood, better sleeping patterns and increased nutritional intake. 

    Additionally, exercise, being active, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of some specific cancers such as colon, endometrial and breast cancer.
  • Depending on what type of treatment and diagnosis you have will determine what type of exercise you will benefit from. Gentle exercises such as yoga and pilates are a good starting point as they are well tolerated by those undergoing chemo and radiotherapy. People having surgery should consult with their doctor before starting any exercise regime.
  • Depending on when you had treatment and the type of treatment, it may be ill-advised to perform some exercises or sports. For example, swimming is a great low-impact exercise, however, it is not recommended for patients immediately after surgery if required to keep areas dry and intact, those having radiotherapy, as swimming can dry out already dehydrated skin or chemotherapy due to the spread of germs. However, this will vary from patient to patient; your doctor or nurse will be able to inform you if you can go swimming.
  • Physiotherapists are members of the healthcare profession who specialise in improving movement through exercise and activity. Post surgery, or when feeling fatigued and losing muscle mass, physiotherapists are able to provide personal exercises and advise how to move your body to help rehabilitation and improve mobility. 

    Your treating doctor or nurse should be able to refer you to a physiotherapist if you think you could benefit from one. Many hospitals and clinics have on-site physiotherapists that specialise in cancer.