Should I be exercising before starting my cancer treatment?

By Nasser Yassine on May 5 / 2017

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching]Comments

There’s a growing body of evidence that encourages cancer patients to be physically active before undergoing cancer treatment as it may help them recover faster and return to their daily life quicker. This concept known as “prehabilitation” and it refers to increasing an individual’s functional capacity before a major stressor (i.e. cancer treatment) to help minimize possible complications. Here are some points to consider about being active before treatment:

I’m sedentary and never really enjoyed physical activity. Benefits in improved health are highest when transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle to a low to moderately active lifestyle. Focusing on simple acts of daily living that are important to your everyday life such as walking and taking the stairs are good examples of how you can start to build physical activity into your days. As long as you’re moving more, then you’re on the right track.

My family and friends have told me that I should try to get more rest before starting treatment. Rest can be important, but there is such a thing as too much rest. Increasing or maintaining your fitness level prior to starting treatment will provide you with a better baseline. Think of it as a buffer that will help minimize the amount of physical strength and cardiovascular endurance that will be lost.

I’m already active and always have been. Continue on this path, but it’s important to know that you may need to make some modifications to your exercise regimen once you start treatment (depending on the type and possible side-effects).

I’m sold on the benefits of being active, but I’m not sure what I can and cannot do. Ask your oncologist if there are any contraindications in light of your diagnosis and you can also seek help from an exercise specialist if you need more guidance (kinesiologist, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist).

If you or someone you love is struggling with Cancer – please reach out to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching program

We can help.

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