For patients, caregivers and family members of the CTCA Community
Oncology Rehabilitation and Exercise

Living with cancer, you might feel like you barely have enough energy to get through the day. Exercise can be the last thing on your mind.

It might be hard to believe, but even a small amount of activity can give you more energy. Exercise can also help you regain strength and improve your mood, and may help you tolerate your cancer treatments better.

The benefits of exercise

Exercise is good for anyone, but cancer patients need exercise even more. Cancer, of course, can weaken your body. Cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can compound that impact, including possible changes to your physical mobility, posture, balance, speech, and bodily and reproductive functions.

Exercise can be crucial to your recovery, because it may:
  • Rebuild your muscles, reversing the effects of weight loss and inactivity
  • Increase your red blood cell count, helping you fight fatigue
  • Increase blood flow to your legs, minimizing the risk of blood clots
  • Improve your respiratory capacity
  • Increase your endurance, strength and flexibility
  • Improve your balance, reducing your risk of falling
  • Help keep your bowels working properly
  • Reduce stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness
  • Improve your ability to perform everyday activities
  • Enhance your self-image
  • Promote a higher quality of life

Getting active is not only good for your body, but also for your mind. It can give you the strength to fight cancer.

Getting active

To get past the “dragging your feet” phase, make a list of all the reasons you want to exercise—including the benefits in this article.

Then, follow these tips from active Cancer Fighters® members:
  • Start out slowly and build up gradually.
  • Know your limits.
  • Keep your routine simple—and fun.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy—bike rides, golf, swimming, tennis and others.
  • A short walk every day can work wonders.
  • Don’t like the gym? Try an online workout!
  • Look for events on your Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) hospital’s Patient Activity Calendar.

Note: Before you begin any exercise regimen, you must discuss physical activity with your doctor. He or she can recommend the appropriate exercise level for you at your stage of recovery, or may refer you to the CTCA® Oncology Rehabilitation Department.

You may be interested in these resources:

Your care team can suggest integrative therapies to fight fatigue and keep you strong.


Mind-body medicine links physical health with psychological and spiritual wellness.