Finding Stability

Exercise During Cancer Treatment: How to Avoid Fitness Apathy

Exercise during cancer treatment can keep your stress levels low and your spirits up. Find out how to get into the fitness groove.

A cancer diagnosis and treatment protocol can throw a wrench into every part of your life, including your fitness routine. If you’re struggling to find a way to exercise during cancer treatment, while still respecting your body’s new challenges, take heart. With a bit of patience and grace, along with some strategies to keep you motivated, you can still find a way to exercise during this trying time.

Why Exercise

When you first begin treatment protocol, finding time to exercise is far down your list of priorities. However, exercise can be an important part of your mental and physical wellness plan. Not only can exercise help your body to remain physically strong during your treatment protocol, but the extra endorphin release after an exercise session can be just what you emotionally need to keep your spirits up and stress levels low.

If you were an avid gym member before your diagnosis, or if you never have given the time to exercise, you can still be successful at the gym during your treatment. You just need a few shortcuts and strategies to keep you motivated and proud of yourself. Here are a few success tips for becoming a happy exerciser.

Consult the Professionals

Before you start any exercise program, talk to your oncologist first. Your doctor can give you advice on how much your body can take, as well as refer you to any local exercise professionals who have experience working with people undergoing cancer treatment.

Just with any part of cancer treatment, building your support team is important. If you’re new to exercise, or know that you will need some modifications during treatment, consider fortifying your team by working with a personal trainer. Search for a trainer who has experience working with cancer patients, and let them know your hesitations or worries before you develop a plan together.

Keep it Easy

If possible, make exercise during cancer treatment as convenient as possible. Find a gym near work, keep your gear in your car, have a TV show you only watch on the treadmill or incorporate activity throughout your day. (Try taking a walk during your lunch break or riding your bike to work, for example.) Buy yourself some workout clothes that look and feel comfortable, and keep a gym bag packed at all times. That way, you can work out when inspiration strikes. You can keep it in your garage or car, under your desk or by your couch for a friendly reminder.

You’re more likely to stick with exercise if you love it, so find something you look forward to doing. Try new activities until you find a few things that are perfect for your situation. Think yoga, kayaking, Tabata, or dance classes if regular group exercise or treadmill sessions make you dread the gym. Also, grab a friend. Not only do workout partners keep one another accountable, but friends can also make exercise a chance to catch up. Gather a group for hikes every weekend, or meet up with a pal for an early morning run every week. If your support group allows for it, you can have a group outing to a class or bring an instructor to a meeting.

Your body is taxed during cancer treatment, so be sure you’re doing your best to keep your goal of health. Drink plenty of water, rest when you need to, avoid the gym at crowded times, follow your doctor’s advice and listen to your body. While you may not be able to attain the same levels of fitness during treatment, give yourself plenty of grace and be proud of your body.

Exercise is a big part of cancer prevention and treatment. Find out more about how to make it a daily part of your life.

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Haley Burress
Haley Burress