Benefits of Exercising During Cancer Treatment

Written by Melanie Bowen. Melanie Bowen is a member of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives.  Connect with Melanie

Exercise is beneficial to everyone and it can be especially helpful for those who are facing cancer treatment. A cancer patient may not be able to engage in vigorous exercise for long periods of time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that even light physical activity can have many benefits. The main focus should be to remain active even through cancer treatments. During certain treatments, activity may include walking or other light activities for shorter periods of time. As a person begins to feel better or isn’t suffering harsh side effects of treatment, activity may be increased.

An obvious benefit of regular physical activity is weight control. Those who are overweight may experience harsher side effects of cancer treatment than those of a normal weight. Therefore, a regular fitness regime can reduce or maintain one’s weight, which will reduce the negative side effects of treatment.

Exercise is important in maintaining physical health as well as mental health. Regular exercise increases strength and endurance and organs, such as the heart, are able to better function. A person who exercises regularly has increased energy levels and can counter the effects of some cancer treatments, which can cause extreme fatigue. Regular exercise also leads to a more restful sleep. The body is able to rest and repair itself during sleep so it is crucial to get the proper amount of rest. Another important benefit of exercise is that it helps in relieving stress. The challenges faced by a cancer patient, especially during treatment, can create a stressful situation, which often leads to depression. A person who remains active during cancer treatments will be able to combat the negative mental effects of cancer and treatment.

It has been proven that exercise can be a motivator in cancer patients because they want to remain active and continue to feel better. It gives patients something to look forward to and a way to work toward regaining their health.

Cancer patients must consult with their physician regarding a proper fitness regime. Certain cancer treatments, such as those associated with treatment of mesothelioma, can limit the amount of physical activity that a person is able to do. A physician can inform a patient of the safest and most effective exercise plan based on current health and type of treatment that is received.

Are you battling cancer or know someone who is? Is this information helpful? What was your experience with cancer & exercise?

About Faith Keith

Luke Keith picked me. I love life. View all posts by Faith Keith

6 responses to “Benefits of Exercising During Cancer Treatment

  • Jack Martin

    The positive vibes from exercising are always excellent, so this all makes a lot of sense to me. It may be hard to find the motivation to exercise at times, under these circumstances, but if you can I bet it helps a bit.

    • Faith Keith

      I think you hit the nail on the head, Jack! You said “if you CAN”. My greatest fear in releasing this article is for fitness people becoming judgmental of friends undergoing cancer treatments expecting that they **should* *workout when maybe they just **can’t**. Finding motivation to workout, I agree, would be so beneficial even if just for the mental encouragement boost it can provide to just keep truckin’.

  • Alana

    Hi Faith,
    I think Yoga is a great way to exercise for cancer treatment patients without them having to push their bodies to limits that they know they can’t reach. Yoga is simply a series of stretches into which timed breaths are incorporated. I’ve found that however sick I may be feeling, I can always squeeze in about twenty minutes of stretches in an average day. What are your thoughts on yoga as an adjunct to treatment?

    • Faith Keith

      Hi Alana! I love yoga! I have never undergone cancer treatment nor am I a research scientist so I have no authority on the matter, but I would say that if you are able during treatments, then go for it! Because anything to get your body moving and helping you *feel* strong is healthy for body AND MIND. Often how we *think* or *feel* can change our perspective entirely.

  • Alana


    Thanks for the response. Yoga has a way of changing your outlook and thoughts…I don’t know; my confidence levels have been boosted over the last couple of months due to having a regular yoga routine. More confidence equals a better mood which equals less stress, which in turn helps your body fight off infections much better.


    • Faith Keith

      It really does! I have do yoga regularly and I can totally relate to what you are saying. My yoga session is in the mornings so on yoga days after-session I am always feeling lighter about my day. It’s relaxing, conditioning and strengthening! So good for the mind and body. Do you have a certain type of yoga that you prefer?

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