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How Do I Get Started Exercising During Cancer Recovery?

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Congratulations, you are on your road to recovery. Your initial medical treatments are behind you, and you may have gone through physical therapy. You are at a crossroads asking yourself, “Now what do I do?”


I have been on that journey, and I have worked with survivors who are currently in treatment and are done with treatment. I have seen what appropriate, regular exercise can do for not only your body, but your spirit as well. This is a critical time; your body is still healing and so it needs the right types and amounts of activity to keep progressing.

Many of you will have had physical therapy, which has gotten you on the on the right path. What about after therapy? Well, first we will start with the basics.


First off, it is important that you have been cleared by your physician before you start any exercise program.


Initially, we will want to start with simple stretching and range of motion exercises. There is no one size fits all program. We all have different circumstances and the stretches that I need may not be the ones you need. So having someone experienced & qualified design a beginning exercise program for you that is safe and effective is important. As you feel stronger, I recommend going from one to three 10 to 20-minute stretching and range of motion exercise sessions per day.

Once you start to feel stronger, you will continue to do the stretching, but you will want to start adding in cardiovascular exercises. We want to start simple, like walking at a slow pace, riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical if you have access to one. Keep your cardio low impact for a few weeks and then pick up the pace when you feel like your body needs more. I started out by walking to the end of my block, progressing until I walked once around the block, then twice around the block, etc. You get the picture. Let your body be your guide, just keep moving so you do not rust in place.


Now, we are going to add in some light-weight training. This is very important because a lot of the medications that treat cancer can weaken the skeletal system and building muscle will help strengthen the bones.

Never underestimate the importance of weight training! It is a necessary component of any exercise program. Again, start light & slow and increase as your strength comes back. Having a trained professional will help to ensure that you are doing appropriate exercises for you and that you are using correct form. By using a professional Cancer Exercise Specialist, you can ensure that your workout will be safe and effective for you.


Once you get started exercising, you will want to make it a habit. It takes about 6 weeks of being consistent to create a habit and exercising regularly is such a good habit! I know that in this busy world it sometimes seems like we don’t have a lot of time, but now your health must be a top priority. It is important to set aside 2 to 3 times a day to focus on yourself, to take care of you. The work will pay off. I am here to help you and to encourage you in any way I can. I had cancer and I know it is hard to get started, but it pays off in the long run.

Don’t delay, get started today! We are here to form a community of Thrivers who can help and encourage each other. Feel free to post pictures in the comments so that this community can encourage you as you encourage and inspire them!

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