Wellbeing & Motivation > World Cancer Day: The Benefits of Exercise

World Cancer Day: The Benefits of Exercise

4th Feb 21

Being active is very important to help keep our bodies as healthy as possible. Exercise has many benefits, but one major benefits is how it can help prevent the risk of cancer and even help those being treated for cancer.

Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

Exercise Guidelines

elderly couple lifting kettlebells

The NHS recommends that adults do strength exercises at least twice a week and at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly to keep healthy. Exercising regularly is the best way to maintain or lose weight, strengthen muscles, improve everyday life and manage or prevent health conditions.

How Exercise Can Help Prevent Cancer

couple jogging with a dog

Unfortunately, when it comes to cancer, not all types can be prevented. However, it has been proven that there are many different ways to reduce the risk of cancer, and one of these things is exercising regularly. It has been proven that between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Cancer Research UK has said that “keeping a healthy weight lowers your risk of 13 different cancer types. This includes 2 of the most common types of cancer (breast and bowel) and 3 of the hardest to treat cancers (pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder).”

When we say you need to exercise, that doesn’t mean you have to go jogging every day or become a bodybuilder. Walking regularly, playing with your kids or doing jobs around the house counts as staying active. As long as you keep yourself healthy, you are at a lower risk of developing cancer.

Exercising During Treatment

When it comes to exercising during cancer treatment, there is no right or wrong answer. It completely depends on how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Guidelines do state that it is safe to exercise during and after cancer treatment, but there are many different types of cancers and treatments, and they all affect you differently. If you want to know for certain, speak to your doctor first.

How Exercise Can Help

Exercise has loads of benefits, both physically and mentally, and most of these apply to anyone currently going through cancer treatment. Exercising regularly can help to reduce anxiety, improve depression and reduce fatigue, both in general and for those with cancer.

For those being treated, exercise can improve the quality of life during and after treatment and improve general physical functioning. Cancer treatment can cause lymphedema, which is swelling to the lymph nodes, and exercise can help prevent or improve this.

Again, we advise speaking with your doctor before exercising and generally taking it easy if you choose to exercise. Still, it can help anyone undergoing cancer treatment and people who have just finished treatment.

When To Avoid Exercise

There are times when it is best to avoid exercise, such as after certain types of surgery or if your cancer affects the bones. For more information, see the Cancer Research UK site. One main thing to avoid is gyms. Cancer treatment causes low immunity making it harder to fight off illnesses, so it would be best to avoid gyms full of people.

So get started! Whether you need to exercise more regularly or want to stay active during treatment, exercise will always help. In both cases, if you do very little exercise, start slowly and build up. If you are going through treatment, make sure you fit in plenty of breaks and don’t push yourself too hard.

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.