Gentle exercise for cancer support
A gentle exercise program can offer many health benefits as a cancer support for anyone going through chemotherapy treatment and/or radiation therapy.
Whilst undergoing these treatments, your energy levels and feelings of vitality are depleted and it is common to experience exhaustion. At these times an exercise program may feel like the last thing you want to do. However, health professionals and medical scientists are now encouraging cancer patients to exercise as it can offer many health benefits.
Each person going through treatment for cancer will have their own unique experience. Therefore, it is important before embarking with exercise, to have medical clearance from your doctor or oncologist confirming that it is safe for you to undertake a gentle exercise program.
Gentle exercise may support cancer patients with:
- Better quality sleep
- Improved mood levels and vitality
- Increased energy and decreased cancer-related fatigue
- Maintaining healthy muscle strength and endurance
- Increased cardiovascular and respiratory function
- Improved bone density
- Supporting and nourishing the joints
- Supporting a possible decrease in the side effects of treatment
When participating in exercise whilst going through cancer treatment, the most important thing is to check in with how you are feeling on that day.
Each day is going to be different in relation to where you are at within your treatment.
The exercise that you do is then adapted by listening to your body.
There may be some days where you may need more rest, and a gentle walk from room to room in your house or even to your letterbox and back may be enough. Other days you may feel that you can walk longer distances up the street, or even several kilometres. The key is to do something at least once or twice a day, no matter if it is a 60-90 second walk to another room, or a 20-30min walk down the street. The commitment to moving your body regularly – in gentleness and connection – can support you not only physically, but is also great for your mental health and wellbeing.
Your exercise program can vary greatly day to day as your body may feel very different and the key is not to push yourself or compare to the exercise program you were doing pre-cancer treatment, or even just the previous day or week.
Nurture yourself for Cancer Support
Gentle stretching and regular movement of the joints when completed in a way with awareness and gentleness can deeply support and nurture your body during extended periods of time either sitting or lying. Light hand weight exercises can also assist with maintaining muscle strength. You may wish to seek the support of an experienced exercise instructor to develop an appropriate program for you during this time, or you could refer to one of these gentle workouts.
Whatever exercise program you choose, be guided by the wisdom and support of your body.
Going through chemotherapy treatment or radiation therapy for cancer is a very fragile and delicate time with so much change to deal with physically and emotionally. Do be kind to yourself and keep things simple. It is a great opportunity to really nurture yourself and bring more self-care into your days – gentle exercise being one part of your cancer support.