Getting Active After Chemotherapy - Every Little Bit Counts

by GregP_WN

A cancer diagnosis may seem like it puts a damper on your exercise routine. Whether exercise was or was not an important part of your life before your diagnosis, a lot of WhatNexter’s find that it is important to get active and stay in shape after chemotherapy. The thing is, every little bit counts. Below is some information that cancer patients may want to know about what exercise can do for them after cancer treatment.

Staying Active

The most reliable and trustworthy source to go for information is your doctor. Consult your doctor before beginning or continuing any exercise routines. It is also important to know your limitations. Be careful not to overextend yourself!

Why Staying Active is Important

Many people with cancer who undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy suffer from fatigue during treatment. This fatigue can lead to a lack of physical activity and low energy level; if you are not doing much then your muscles are getting weaker and you may not have good range of motion. Starting and keeping an exercise routine can break the cycle of fatigue, give you more energy and keep your body stronger after treatment. Exercise can:

- Make it easier to do daily tasks
- Boost your self-confidence
- Lower the risk of anxiety and depression
- Relieve stress
- Keep up your appetite
- Help with balance
- Make muscles stronger or keep them from weakening
- Help control your weight

Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Begin

Exercise is good for most cancer patients, but each case is unique and each person’s capabilities are different. Ask your doctor these questions to find out what is right for you.

- What types of exercise do you suggest with my treatment and capability?
- Do I have any risk factors or am I taking any medications that would interfere with exercise?
- Is it okay to drink extra fluids while exercising?
- Are certain types of exercise safer or better for me?
- At what level should I exercise? Is it safer to go above a moderate level?
- Are there any warning signs I should look for when I exercise?

Practical Ideas for Being Active after Chemo

Here are some tips that will help you start with active substitutions of things you perform in your everyday life. Just these substitutions can make a difference.

- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk or bike if your destination is within a close distance.
- Take 20 minutes out of your day or break to walk or stretch.
- Plan activities that include physical activity during vacation.
- Wear a pedometer to track daily steps (you walk more than you think!)
- Use a treadmill or other exercise machine while watching TV.

Ideas to Make Exercising More Fun

Fortunately, exercising does not have to be a chore. Many WhatNexter’s have tried to get creative to make exercising more appealing to them. Here are a few ideas.

- Keep the same exercise hobby you had before your diagnosis. You may feel like you have to give it up, but if it is okay with your doctor, keep it up! It may just be that you have to scale down or cut back a little, but there is no reason to stop doing what you love if it is still safe.
- Plan a walk where you can see the sunrise or sunset.
- Make a motivating or soothing playlist with your favorite type of music, favorite band, or favorite inspirational songs.
- Bring a friend or make an exercise buddy. This means you can be chatting during your exercise. It makes the time go by faster and holds you accountable!
- Start a personal reward program. Tell yourself if you exercise then you can also do something else that you love as a reward.
- Try something new. Whether you have wanted to go to a Yoga or stretching class at your gym, or wanted to start swimming at the pool more, try it and see if it will fit into your routine.
- Take your kids. If you have kids, play with them at the park or in the yard. That still counts as exercise.

If you are not the type of person to exercise or if you feel too tired, give it a try for a few days and see how you feel. After getting the okay from your doctor, start at the bare minimum by getting outside and going for a short walk with a friend or family member. It is okay to take baby steps.

Does anyone have any other exercise tips for those who have just been diagnosed with cancer? What has made you feel better after chemotherapy treatment? Have you tried any new types of exercises?

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