Living Well

Physical activity and a balanced diet can improve the quality of life for both the patient and their partner during and after treatment. Prostate cancer is a disease that primarily affects an older demographic therefore doing exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can be a crucial step in preventing other diseases that commonly occur with aging, including heart disease and diabetes.

Research has shown that exercise can improve the quality of life for cancer patients on their journey to recovery. Exercise is beneficial before, during and after treatment because it can improve an individual’s physical and emotional health. Exercise can also:

  • Make you feel happier
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Help maintain a healthy lifestyle

Many cancer treatments have problematic side effects. Cancer and associated treatments can cause:

  • Weight gain
  • Bone loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Confusion

Many of the listed treatment side effects above can be improved or eliminated with proper exercise. Please refer to the exercise guidelines, recommendations and resources below.

Exercising Safety Precautions

Your healthcare team can provide you with a safe and effective exercise plan. Some general safety precautions for people with cancer include:

  • Avoiding public places, such as gyms and community centers if you have a low white blood cell count and or a weakened immune system. 
  • Avoiding uneven surfaces or any weight-bearing exercises that could cause falls or injury (dangerous for those with osteoporosis, arthritis, nerve damage, and bone cancer). 
  • Avoiding swimming pools if you are receiving radiation therapy (chlorine can irritate the treatment area). 
  • Not exercising if you have anemia or a mineral deficiency.

Tips for Cancer Patients and Survivors when Beginning an Exercise Program: 

  • Start slow. Begin with something simple like walking and slowly increase how often and how long you walk.
  • Try to exercise a little or do some type of activity each day, even if you aren’t feeling well. Sometimes just a few minutes of gentle stretching can make you feel better.
  • If you don’t have the energy to exercise for a long period of time, break it up into a few sessions throughout the day.
  • Try to do exercises that use large muscle groups such as your thighs, abdomen, chest and back.
  • Vary activities to include strength, flexibility and aerobic training. 
  • Try different low impact exercises such as yoga, tai chi or dancing.
  • Make exercise enjoyable by doing it with a friend or while listening to music.
  • Try to remain active within your daily routine.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator/elevator.
  • Instead of driving, try other alternatives like walking and biking.
  • Get some fresh air or try meditation exercises to improve motivation and reduce fatigue.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. Stop and rest when you’re tired.

Pre-Treatment Exercise Benefits:

  • Helps you tolerate treatment better
  • Reduces treatment complications
  • Helps maintain minimum levels of strength, even after long periods of bed rest.
  • Reduces hospitalization duration
  • Helps keep you calm
  • Improves recovery time

Benefits of Exercise during Treatment:

  • Improves immune system function
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Decreases weight and body fat
  • Improves cardiovascular strength
  • Reduces hospitalization duration
  • Improves upper extremity lymphedema
  • Regulates bowel movements
  • Improves quality of life
  • Preserves bone health
  • Improves appetite
  • Improves the quality of sleep
  • Helps against depression and anxiety

Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Survivors:

  • Improves cardiovascular strength
  • Improves mental Clarity
  • Improves physical functioning
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Increases bone mineral density
  • Increases Joint mobility
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Improves the quality of Life
  • Reduces Risk of comorbidities
  • Reduces chronic treatment and related side-effects
  • Improves body image and self-esteem 1

For exercises specifically designed for stomach cancer patients and survivors, please visit a health care professional for recommendations and referrals.

More Resources:

Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer – A comprehensive guide about living well with prostate cancer compiled by the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).

Advanced Prostate Cancer: Nutrition, Exercise, a Healthy Lifestyle A guide to healthy living with metastatic prostate cancer compiled by

To view the list of resources cited above, please click here.