Moderate aerobic exercise, such as riding a stationary bicycle or taking a daily walk, coupled with the use of light weights for strength training, can enhance physical well-being and spur recovery.
Research has found no harmful effects on patients with cancer from moderate exercise and, in fact, has demonstrated that those who exercised regularly had 40% to 50% less fatigue, the primary complaint during treatment.
Engaging in regular exercise increases muscle strength, joint flexibility and general conditioning, all of which may be impaired by surgery and some therapies. Exercise is known to improve cardiovascular function and to protect bones. It also elevates mood, offering drug-free relief for the feelings of depression that may accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Finally, exercise helps control weight -- a crucial factor, as studies have shown that gaining weight during and after treatment raises the risk of a cancer recurrence, particularly for breast, colon and prostate cancers.