Exercise and Cancer Treatment

OTC_treadmillCanada leads the world in understanding the importance of the relationship of exercise to prevent and help cancer recovery. Treatment at the Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic can assist you in prevention strategies, recovery as well as help you in managing symptoms as you go through treatment.

Benefits of exercise in cancer treatment

Moderate to vigorous exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days per week can help you to manage your cancer treatment, reduce side-effects and assist in your long-term health strategy.  Exercise has been proven to have the following benefits:

  • Reduction in side-effects from chemotherapy and radiation
  • Improvement in quality of life during and following cancer treatment
  • Reduced risk of recurrence for certain types of cancer
  • Improved  immune system
  • Reduced  risk for certain types of  secondary tumors through a reduction in body fat

Exercise plays a role in cancer prevention, treatment and recovery.

Therapeutic Exercise and Prevention

Exercise is definitely the best medicine when it comes to cancer prevention. Exercise has been proven to reduce the initial risk for some cancers by over 40%[1] and has a substantial effect in preventing some secondary cancers. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle has been proven to reduce the risk for the following cancers:

  • colon
  • breast
  • endometrial
  • prostate
  • lung
  • ovarian
  • uterine

Therapeutic Exercise and Pre-habilitation

Pre-habilitation refers to exercises to prepare for your cancer treatment. The healthier you are going into chemotherapy the better your system will tolerate treatment. People who exercise prior to beginning treatment are more likely to:

  • complete treatment on schedule
  • have less side-effects
  • be better able to manage the challenges of treatment
  • have less treatment complications
  • remain more active

Therapeutic Exercise and Treatment

stock-photo-21099068-two-happy-women-posing-in-exercise-fitness-classNot everyone can exercise while undergoing treatment however when you are able it can dramatically reduce the side-effects caused by these treatments. The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic’s Registered Kinesiologists will help you to plan and execute exercise programs that can support you during your treatments. Using state of the art information our Kinesiologists will develop an individualized program which can be adjusted to meet your needs throughout your treatment. Maintaining[2] your fitness during treatment has been shown to have the following benefits:

  • Reduced nausea
  • Less pain
  • Less fatigue and better energy
  • Increased tolerance to side-effects
  • Lower risk for complications
  • Improved muscle mass
  • Enhanced lymphatic drainage
  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
  • Shorter stays in hospital

Some health concerns may need to be addressed prior to engaging in a fitness program and we recommend that you contact your oncologist and/or primary physician prior to starting your program.  Your blood work should also be monitored during your treatments.

Therapeutic Exercise and Recovery

Following your recovery, rehabilitation and fitness play an important role in restoring your independence and quality of life. Maintaining fitness can help you to:

  • Regain confidence
  • Restore a healthy weight with less body fat and improve your muscle mass
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve bone density and reduce risk for bone fracture
  • Improve balance and muscle control
  • Improve flexibility

Exercise can reduce the risk for some types of secondary tumors by:

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Reducing inflammation in your body
  • Reducing body fat

The Registered Kinesiologists at the Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic can help you develop a sustainable approach to exercise which supports a long-term commitment to a healthy lifestyle.


[1] Post-menopausal women breast cancer risk – Friedenreich

[2] Courney 2001