Research shows that physical activity may have beneficial effects on survival for patients with breast, colorectal and prostate cancers in particular (1,2). It is thought that exercise boosts the immune system and reduces hormone and inflammation levels, which helps with reducing mortality rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits for me and my condition?
There are many benefits to moving more for your cancer recovery and management and overall health. Physical activity benefits include:
- Improve mood and reduce stress
- Build strength
- Connect with others
- Improve confidence
- Maintain healthy weight
- Reduce fatigue
Is it safe for me to exercise?
"There is no situation, there is no age and no condition where exercise is not a good thing." - Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer
The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks for individuals with long-term conditions (3). Healthcare professionals state that it is safer for individuals with long-term conditions to be physically active. Moving more than you currently do is a great start. If you're unsure about your ability, it might be wise to start gradually and build up, some is better than none. Aim to move more in a way that you enjoy. You can find tips to help you move more here.
If you're unsure about your ability, it might be wise to start gradually and build up. Please feel free to refer to the UK Chief Medical Officer's Physical Activity Guidelines when determining the level of activity appropriate to you.
What are some activities I could try?
Suitable activities may differ depending on your condition. However, generally speaking exercise that is low impact will be best. This could include;
Walking, cycling, yoga, swimming, dancing
It's best to start gradually with something you enjoy and feel comfortable with.
How much physical activity should I be doing?
Try and be as active as you can everyday but listen to your body. Some days you may be able to do more than others and that's perfectly fine. Any movement will help but activities that get you slightly out of breath (able to speak not sing) will provide the biggest health benefits. Try and gradually build up how much you are able to do.
How can I stay motivated?
Motivation can be difficult to find if your exercise has not become a habit. Here are some tips to keep you going:
- Set yourself a long-term goal for completing activity e.g. "I want to feel less breathless", "I want to feel more confident in myself", "I want to be a role model to my children/grandchildren", "I want to meet new people". Remember this when you are encouraging yourself to keep going.
- Set a clear intention e.g. During the next week, I will partake in at least X minutes of physical activity on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].
- Keep track of how your goals are going, how often you are exercising in relation to your goals.
- Bring a friend or relative with you
- Set a reminder on your phone or in the calendar, or put your walking shoes by the door on the day you've planned to get active.
- Take note of how you feel after exercise, such as feeling more upbeat, and remind yourself of this.
Tony thinks that "The physical side is vitally important... but the emotional support is just as important."
Visit We Are Undefeatable for more information and inspiration on getting active.
Make Your Move (PDF, 153 Kb)
A selection of physical activity programmes for people with medical conditions, whose health would benefit from being more active.
Lots of information and ideas on how to keep yourself healthy and active whilst staying at home or working from home.
What's around my way is our current advertising campaign to help you find your local parks, open spaces, walking and cycling routes and give you some ideas on what to do when you get there.
Thinking about having a go at walking, running or cycling? It's a great way to get out in your local area and move a little more.
Together we will beat cancer.
Your complete guide to becoming more active.
Cancer Patient leaflet (PDF, 101 Kb)
You're performing the exercises linked from our website at your own risk.
Whilst every effort has been made to verify the information on the Cancer page, Active Together is not responsible for the accuracy or content of external websites. Whilst taking part in physical activity, participants should ensure they take part at a level which is appropriate to them and their health and are responsible for ensuring they check the credentials and health and safety requirements for each activity. It is recommended that participants follow the Chief Medical Officers Guidelines for physical activity. Participants will choose to utilise these links and take part in activities at their own risk.
1. Campbell KL, Winters-Stone KM, Wiskemann J, et al. Exercise guidelines for cancer survivors: Consensus statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2019; 51(11):2375-2390. [PubMed Abstract]
2. Schmitz KH, Campbell AM, Stuiver MM, et al. Exercise is medicine in oncology: Engaging clinicians to help patients move through cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2019; 69(6):468-484. [PubMed Abstract]
3. Reid H, Ridout AJ, Tomaz SA, et al. Benefits outweigh the risks: a consensus statement on the risks of physical activity for people living with long-term conditionsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 14 October 2021. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-10428