Physical activity and cancer

Physical activity and cancer

This booklet is about physical activity and cancer. It is for anyone who has cancer or has had treatment for cancer and is thinking about becoming more physically active.

Physical activity is any type of exercise or movement that uses your muscles. It can include everyday activities such as walking, housework or gardening. Any type of activity will help maintain or improve your fitness, health, and well-being.

There are many benefits to being physically active, even if you have cancer. Physical activity can help to reduce fatigue, improve mood, reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, and help you to keep to a healthy weight.

The international guidelines for physical activity and cancer recommend that adults do at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. They also recommend that adults do activities that improve muscle strength on at least two days of the week and activities that improve balance on at least two days of the week.

How much activity is right for you?

This will depend on your individual fitness level and how you are feeling. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of activity you do over time.

If you are unsure how much activity is right for you, or if you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or a cancer exercise specialist.

Tips for getting started with physical activity

● Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle
● Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of activity you do over time
● Listen to your body and take breaks when you need them
● Find a friend or family member to exercise with you

Physical activity can be a great way to improve your health and well-being during and after cancer treatment. If you are unsure how to get started, talk to your doctor or a cancer exercise specialist.

McMillan Cancer Support (UK) publishes resources on physical activity.

This McMillan Cancer Support (UK) booklet is written for people living with or after cancer who want to know more about the benefits of being physically active before, during and after cancer treatment.

View and download the booklet

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