WELLBEING EXPERTS  /  MOVEMENT & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY / Getting started with a physical activity routine

Getting started with a physical activity routine

From diagnosis onwards it’s important to consider how you can use physical activity to support treatment and beyond that, return to your vibrant best. Here is a summary of simple considerations that can be incorporated into lots of different types of physical activity. The key is to work around your natural day-to-day changes in circumstances and remember that consistency and frequency is the ultimate goal, in whatever form and for whatever duration.

Consult your healthcare team

Before starting any exercise programme, it is crucial to consult with your oncologist or healthcare team. They can provide guidance based on your specific cancer diagnosis, treatment plan and overall health.

Set realistic goals

Work with your healthcare team to set realistic goals for your exercise programme. Consider your current fitness level, treatment side effects and any physical limitations. Start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time.

Choose the right type of physical activity

Depending on your condition and preferences, your healthcare team can recommend suitable types of physical activity. Try to be open minded and consider activities that you might not have before. These may include aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, cycling), strength training, flexibility exercises (yoga, stretching), mindfulness (the arts, meditation, daily chores) or a combination. Consider activities that you enjoy and that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, but be flexible enough to change.

Start slowly

Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration as your body allows. Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. It’s important to avoid overexertion and fatigue, especially during cancer treatment.

Seek professional guidance

Consider working with a certified cancer and exercise specialist or physical therapist experienced in working with cancer patients. They can provide personalised exercise programs, monitor your progress and ensure proper form and technique to prevent injuries.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Cancer treatments and medications can cause dehydration, so it’s important to maintain adequate fluid intake.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise. If you experience pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any other concerning symptoms, stop exercising and consult your healthcare team.

Pace yourself

Cancer treatment can cause fluctuations in energy levels. It’s important to pace yourself and adjust your exercise routine based on how you feel each day. Some days you may need to take it easy, while other days you may have more energy to engage in more vigorous activities.

Stay consistent

Aim for regular exercise sessions, but be flexible with your schedule. Even short bouts of exercise can be beneficial. Consistency is key, so try to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine as much as possible.

Monitor progress and adjust

Keep track of your exercise sessions, noting the type, duration, and intensity. Regularly assess your progress including recovery next day with your healthcare team and adjust your physical activity programme as needed.

BY STEPHEN PRICE

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