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Physical Well-Being and Exercise

Physical Activity and Cancer
Exercise is beneficial for all patients at every stage of the cancer journey, and can actually improve how you feel and your overall quality of life. Of course it’s best to avoid exertion that leads to pain, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, but it’s important to keep moving to the best of your ability for optimal health and wellness benefits.

During treatment
Any exercise routine should be approved by your doctor, but the goal is to stay as active and fit as possible during and after cancer treatment. Although it may be easier (or more difficult) at some points, the benefits of exercising during cancer treatment include reduced risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and depression as well as improved blood flow and self-esteem.1
While recovering from treatment
It’s best to gradually increase exercise time and intensity—but remember that low- or moderate-intensity activity for a healthy person may feel like high-intensity activity for some cancer survivors. Keep in mind that moderate exercise is defined as activity that requires the effort of a brisk walk.

When you’re disease-free or living with stable disease
During this phase, physical activity is especially important for your overall health. Although more research is necessary, evidence shows that maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, and being physically active may help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence as well as other serious chronic diseases.1

How to make the most of your exercise
According to the American Cancer Society, these guidelines can optimize the benefits of your physical activity.
  • Start slowly with short periods of exercise with frequent rest breaks. For example, walk briskly for a few minutes, slow down, and walk briskly again until you’ve done 30 minutes of activity. You can divide your daily physical activity into three 10-minute sessions if necessary and still get the health and wellness benefits.
  • Strength, flexibility, and aerobic fitness are all important parts of a good exercise program.
  • Include activities that use large muscle groups such as your thighs, abdomen, chest, and back.
Exercise guidelines to consider…
Physical activity is essential at every stage of the cancer journey. Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as you feel strong enough. Aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week and include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week.


La Roche-Posay created this article with materials sourced from the American Cancer Society, a trusted leader in cancer-related information and resources. La Roche-Posay is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide cancer support resources and funding to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Program.
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