An Exercise Guide for Cancer Patients and Survivors

We all know that regular exercise is a way to stay healthy, live longer, and feel better. We bet you didn’t know how important exercise is for a cancer patient or a survivor. We don’t normally think of a patient who is undergoing cancer treatment as someone in the gym or out doing strength training. Think again, because it has multiple benefits and has become a staple. Keep reading and learn about an exercise guide for cancer patients and survivors

When We Don’t Exercise

Regardless whether you have cancer, are a survivor, or perfectly healthy, without some sort of movement and activity we lose bodily functions. Too much resting and sitting can cause muscle weakness, reduced range of motion, and fatigue. Our goal should be to be as active as we can.

Best Practice for Cancer Patients

Woman doing yoga.

The CDC tells us that being active provides two important benefits:

  1. Exercise lowers the risk of recurrence.
  2. Exercise helps to manage the side effects of cancer treatments.

That is just the beginning.

Before Treatment Begins

Once you are diagnosed it is recommended that patients be more active or stay at your normal level of activity. This will reduce any complications from surgery and help to handle the treatments better. In addition, it will help the patient deal with distress and anxiety and provide more energy.

During Treatments

Your goal is still to remain active, but you will be affected by the type and stage of cancer. The kind of treatment will affect your ability to exercise as will your stamina fitness level. So do what you can.

Recovering from Treatments

As side effects lessen, patients can slowly increase exercise time and intensity. Move as much as you can.


The American Cancer Society has a Nutrition and Physical Activity Guideline for Cancer Survivors for cancer survivors.

Some of their recommendations include:

  • Avoid inactivity, and return to normal activity as soon as possible after cancer diagnosis
  • Start slowly and build up the amount of exercise overtime
  • 150 – 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week
  • Exercise several times a week for at least 10 minutes
  • Do resistance training for 2 days a week

Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients and Survivors

This is only a partial list of the benefits:

  • Helps the body and brain work together
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases appetite
  • Helps with sleep issues
  • Reduces treatment side effects
  • Reduces the risk of cancer returning
  • Improves bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Provides improved muscle strength
  • Helps with fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and quality of life

Patients should always check with New Jersey Cancer Care concerning the amount and level of exercise.

Contact New Jersey Cancer Care at one of our locations with additional questions or concerns about exercise for cancer patients and survivors.