Its time to move it, move it. Ten ways exercise helps cancer survivors.

For years, health experts have told us the benefits of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. After surviving cancer treatment most of us want to do whatever we can do to stay healthy and decrease the likelihood of cancer coming back.  

In addition, side effects such as pain and fatigue from cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation cause most of us to become less active. This can cause added muscle and joint stiffness, weight gain and depression. Medications such as steroids given with chemotherapy and the taste changes associated with chemotherapy can also cause unanticipated weight gain during treatment. Adding exercise as part of your daily routine can combat many of the ill effects related to cancer treatment.

There is now evidence to suggest that by exercising and keeping your weight at a healthy level, you can reduce the risk of cancer coming back.  


people running on machines, treadmillHere are nine more ways exercise helps cancer survivors.


  1. Improves your mood. Regular exercise is a great way to combat depression, anxiety and improve sleep.
  2. Combats treatment related fatigue. Regular exercise increases energy and improves fatigue.
  3. Helps with weight loss and reduces weight gain.
  4. Exercise improves self-esteem and self-confidence. Some cancer treatments can cause changes in our body image that affect our confidence. Exercise can make you look better by toning your muscles and/or losing weight and help you feel better about yourself.
  5. Increases lean muscle mass- This helps with long term weight loss and body appearance.
  6. Strength training decreases lymphedema episodes and symptoms
    1. Must have stable lymphedema before beginning any weigh training
    2. A well fitting custom compression garment should be worn during all upper body exercises.
  7. Makes you stronger
  8. Decreases joint aches in patients who use aromatase inhibitor’s or AI’s  Combined aerobic exercise and resistance training has been shown to decrease this common side effect.
  9. Improves bone mineral density  . As we get older, we lose bone mass and medications such as AI’s contribute to bone loss. Exercise counteracts this bone loss.



Always, before starting any exercise routine, check with your doctor to find out if it is safe for you to start an exercise program. If you can, start slow and build up to at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.   Work with a certified trainer to make sure exercises are being done with the correct form and technique.

As you can see, exercise can quickly put you back on the road to better health and actually have you feeling better than before your cancer treatment. Now it’s time to get moving.

Beautifully Yours - Dr Tonya Cole




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