There is mounting evidence that it is important to keep active after being diagnosed with cancer. We acknowledge that following a diagnosis of sarcoma often surgery carried out can result in you being advised there are limitations you must abide by however your physiotherapist should be able to support and advise you on what is appropriate for you.
There are many benefits of staying active. These include maintaining a healthy blood pressure and heart rate, improving or maintaining muscle strength, helping to look after your bones and helping to keep your weight healthy. Being active also helps with your emotional wellbeing and helps with symptoms of fatigue. Being active during and after treatment also reduces the risk of getting other long term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Many adults (and children) spend long periods of their day sitting. Moving more and sitting less, breaking up periods of sitting with some activity for just 1 to 2 minutes is recommended by the UK Chief Medical Officers.
What should I be doing?
You should, where possible, do a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, which are activities that make you slightly out of breath and strengthening exercises. Some weight-bearing and balance exercises are also recommended (within any limitations advised by your medical team) Most of all the activities you choose should be something you enjoy and that you can fit into your lifestyle.
The current recommended activity for an adult in the UK is:
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity which includes activities to improve muscle strength on at least 2 days a week. This can be broken down into achievable sessions to fit into your lifestyle.
More details on these government guidelines can be found here:
Please seek further advice about exercising if you:
- have been advised to restrict your activity or you are at risk of bone fracture
- currently have restrictions from surgery
- have been diagnosed with bone thinning (osteoporosis)
- have peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
- have lymphoedema
- have, or are at risk of, heart or lung problems
- have a low white blood cell count
If you are at all unsure of what and how much you can do, please speak to your medical team or physiotherapist before starting any exercises/activity.
When you start to include more physical activity into your daily routine, gradually build up how much you do. It is important that you don’t do too much, too quickly. It is not always possible to be active within these guidelines when receiving treatment or following surgery, but doing a little within your ability is very benefical.
If at any time you experience any new or increased symptoms of pain, fatigue, nausea, breathlessness or dizziness, please stop and seek medical advice.
Further information about physical activity:
The following information from Macmillan may help answer some of your questions. If you would prefer to talk to someone in person, you can get help from Macmillan expert advisers by calling the Support Service helpline on 0808 808 0000
Maggie’s Centres provide free advice and support and also offer a range of exercise classes including: Nordic walking, gym sessions, Yoga, Tai-chi, armchair exercise, gardening and walking
You can view a short video on physical activity, alongside other topics on the Cancer Wellbeing London website:
Physical Activity Referral Schemes
Please ask your physiotherapist or GP if there are any physical activity referral schemes available within your local community. Some of these schemes may be especially for those affected by cancer.