Getting Active

Activity and Exercise

We want to help you prepare your body for your upcoming treatment. Similar to training for a sporting event, training before your treatment helps minimise the health risks and helps you recover quicker. Improving your level of fitness will help minimise the risk of complications associated with your treatment and will help you have a healthy recovery.

Being active in addition to good nutrition is essential in helping you prepare for cancer treatment.

Getting Active

Preparing your body for your treatment helps you recover as quickly and effectively as possible, particularly after surgery. Evidence suggests that patients who are physically active have a shorter stay in hospital. By remaining physically active or even increasing your level of activity prior to your treatment or surgery, you will help your body to cope with the extra demands it faces whilst undergoing treatment.

Exercise has many benefits such as increasing bone density, improving joint mobility and improves the function of your heart and lungs, otherwise known as cardiovascular exercise. These benefits are important as they enable you to do functional activities such as getting in and out of bed, climbing the stairs and daily activities that are important to you. Exercise can empower you to take control and improve your mental health and stress levels. This may help you deal with any anxiety you may be experiencing prior to commencing your treatment.

Increasing your activity even by a small amount will give you the best opportunity to support your recovery. We want you to try and reach a target of 30 minutes of exercise a day. But don’t forget, your total activity can be spread out across your day.

Strength and conditioning

Improving muscle strength as well as cardiovascular activity will help your recovery. Resistance based exercises are key to increasing muscle strength. Some examples of strength training include lifting small weights, dumbbells or cans of food/bottles of water, body weight exercises such as squats and lunges or using a resistance band.

Remember, the larger muscle groups such as the thighs, bottom and legs will show the quickest and largest response to resistance training. The large muscles are used to help you walk and the stronger they are before treatment, the sooner you are able to get back to doing the things that matter to you.

Stamina and Pacing

At Cardiff and Vale University Health Board we advocate taking a ‘pacing’ approach to managing your physical health. It is important to complete activities at the right level for you. Everybody’s starting point is different and the size of the changes that people can manage will differ between individuals for many reasons, including previous fitness and health problems. If you overexert yourself you risk suffering setbacks such as injury or fatigue. If in doubt, start low and build slowly.

The following exercises will improve your strength and stamina. The plan will guide and motivate you while working towards your goal of improving your fitness. These exercises can be done at home and don’t require any specialist equipment.

Further support and help:

The advice on these pages is designed to help you prepare for the treatment ahead and support you through to recovery.

If you need further advice and support please discuss this with your key worker or healthcare professional.

  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Cancer support line:
    02920 745655  (9:00am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4:00pm)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support:
    0808 808 00 00
  • Maggie’s Cardiff:
    029 2240 8024
  • Tenovus Cancer Care:
    0808 808 1010
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