Physical activity

While it may be challenging, being active as possible during cancer treatment and recovery can help reduce stress or anxiety, improve your mood and self-esteem, boost your energy, stimulate your appetite, help you sleep and help you regain your strength during recovery. Exercise can also help reduce side effects like nausea, fatigue and constipation [9].

An analysis of the findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) suggest ‘that half of Canadians are not participating in the recommended amount of physical activity and are missing out on a variety of health benefits such as decreased risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and improved bone and mental health’[…] [10]

‘[…] While individuals with cancer were less likely to be active than those who have never had cancer, cancer survivors had similar physical activity levels to the population levels. Activity levels in all three groups are much lower than recommended [11].’

How much physical activity you can do during cancer treatment often depends on your overall health and physical condition, how you cope with treatment and what side-effects you may have. Some people —for example, someone who has had breast surgery—may be given particular exercises to follow as part of their recovery [12].

Obese women appear to have a somewhat higher risk for cervical adenocarcinoma, which represents approximately fifteen per cent of cervical cancers [13]. Furthermore, mortality from cervical cancer overall is also increased in obese patients.

General exercise guidelines during treatment

Each person’s exercise program is unique and should be based on what is safe and works for them. Your goal should be to maintain endurance, strength and flexibility and keep you able to do the things you want to do. There may be times when you don’t feel able to exercise. However, the goal is to be as active as you comfortably can be. These tips may help:

Safety precautions

[14] Information taken from the Canadian Cancer Society 


[9] Neil, S. E., C. C. Gotay, and K. L. Campbell. "Physical Activity Levels of Cancer Survivors in Canada: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey." Journal of Cancer Survivorship Research and Practice (2013): n. pag. Springer Link. Web. 15 July 2015.
[10] ibid.
[11] "Physical Activity during Cancer Treatment." Canadian Cancer Society. Canadian Cancer Society, 2015. Web. 15 July 2015.
[12] ibid.
[13] "Cervical Cancer: Nutritional Considerations." NutritionMD. NutritionMD, 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
[14] "Physical Activity during Cancer Treatment." Canadian Cancer Society. Canadian Cancer Society, 2015. Web. 15 July 2015.