Research has shown that exercise and healthy eating can help to reduce not only the risk of cancer, but also, recurrence of cancer.
Recent clinical trials have shown evidence that women who exercise after completing breast cancer treatment live long and have lesser chance of recurrence.
It is important to exercise regularly to keep the muscles working as well as possible. Exercise helps prevent problems caused by long-term bed rest such as stiff joints, weak muscles, breathing problems, constipation, skin sores, appetite loss and mental changes. It also aids in reducing stress and relieving fatigue. Exercise helps to improve bone health, muscle strength and overall fitness.
Exercise for Cancer Patients & Survivors
Before embarking on a moderate to vigorous exercise programme, it is best to seek your doctor or physiotherapist's opinion.
Below are some recommended exercise routines for cancer patients and survivors to keep healthy.
Generally, there are three types of exercises:
- Stretching / Flexibility Exercises (e.g. for arms, legs, chest, back) - Stretching is extremely important, and can help to stretch out scar tissues, lessen stiffness and improve posture. This is especially important if you had surgery or radiation therapy.
- Aerobic Exercise (e.g. brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling) - Aerobic exercise trains your heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles to work more efficiently, thereby increasing your stamina and energy levels.
- Strengthening / Resistance Exercise (e.g. lifiting weights, isometric exercises, resistance bands) - Resistance exercise uses weights or resistance bands to strengthen your muscles. This builds lean muscle tissue which raises metabolism and reduces body fat. Strengthening muscles that were weakened during surgery or radiation therapy can help to prevent future pain and musculoskeletal complications.
Things to take note of during exercise
- Start slowly, think "a step at a time". a time”. Before you start, make sure you have clearance from your doctor. Start off with exercises that are easy and comfortable. Progress by increasing the number or duration of exercise sessions. Gradually increase exercise intensity only when you are ready. Consult a physiotherapist if you are unsure how to exercise appropriately.
- Always “warm up” and “cool down” to prevent injuries. “Warm up” at the start of the exercise helps to gradually increase heart rate and prepares the body for exercise. “Cool down” at the end of the exercise helps to gradually reduce heart rate and prepares the body to return to its resting state.
- Be aware of the proper technique of each exercise. Ask a physiotherapist to show you how to safely perform exercises that you are unfamiliar with.
Physical activity can also be increased without leaving the house. Here are some tips on how you can inculcate physical activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day to stand, stretch, and take short walks
- Check the kitchen for cans or bottles to perform light weight-lifting exercises
As a caregiver, it is important to provide your loved one with motivation and encouragement by accompanying them on walks or other exercise routines. Encourage them to do as much as possible for themselves.
What to watch out for
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and rest:
- Extreme or unusual breathlessness or wheezing
- New or sharp pain
- Unusual sweating
- Headache, dizziness or light-headedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps or pain
If the above symptoms do not go away with rest, consult a doctor.
If you experience any of the symptoms below during exercise, stop & consult a doctor.
- Tightness, pressure or pain in the chest, arm, neck or jaw
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Blurred vision, new numbness, or tingling in the arms or legs
Active Living at NCIS
Here at the NCIS, we offer a series of programmes that are designed to help cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers stay active and healthy.
These are some of the fitness programmes that are currently offered:
To stay updated on new and upcoming programmes offered at the NCIS, check out our full events calendar here.
Back to Top