Worried that you won’t be able to exercise during your chemotherapy treatment? The experts, like Cancer Research and the NHS, say otherwise…

Cancer treatment is likely to have a severe impact on the body. For those who have experienced a delayed medical treatment of their cancer due to COVID-19, the impact can be even greater. This is because more aggressive treatment may be required, especially if the cancer has progressed during this time.

Because of the physical and mental toll chemo can have on the body, many people want to continue exercising to help them through it all. The question is, is this possible?

In this article, we’ll be taking you through what the experts say on the matter. Take a look…

The Effects of Chemotherapy on the Body

The NHS, Healthline, and Macmillan each list a huge number of potential side effects of chemotherapy. Some of these side effects are more drastic than others, but here is a list of some of the main ones you might come across. Chemotherapy can:

  • Cause brain fog or “chemo brain”
  • Trigger early menopause, including causing hot flashes
  • Cause anxiety and depression
  • Weaken the heart
  • Cause nausea and vomiting
  • Discolour and crack nails
  • Decrease urination
  • Cause urine to turn red
  • Lower blood cell count, leading to other serious side effects like anaemia
  • Lead to susceptibility to infections
  • Cause a low libido and sometimes even infertility
  • Lead to digestive stress, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  • Cause skin sensitivity
  • Cause tiredness and fatigue
  • Lead to hair and bone loss
  • Trigger muscle weakness and poor coordination
  • Make hands and feet swell up
  • Create mouth sores
  • Bring on headaches

Generally, these physical affects can have a dramatic impact on the person’s self-worth, confidence, and emotions. For example, hair loss can trigger a lot of emotions, and coupled with the ongoing pain and other physical symptoms, it really is tricky.

This is especially the case if you’ve experienced a delayed diagnosis of cancer. The later the diagnosis, the more aggressive the treatment, which can have a dire effect on the body and the patient’s mentality.

This emotional toll can, understandably, have a severe impact on the individual’s mental health, causing depression and anxiety amongst other things.

Staying fit and healthy is a known remedy to mental health problems, but the question is, is this possible during chemotherapy? Let’s explore this further…

Is it Possible to Keep Fit During Chemotherapy?

If you’re a gym nut, or just feel as though you should continue staying active throughout your cancer treatment, you’re probably wondering if it’s possible. After all, the physical toll of chemotherapy can make it tricky to be as active as normal.

That said, according to MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, it is important and safe to exercise during cancer treatment. Not only can it help you to ward off the drastic muscle, bone, and immunity damage, it can keep the person feeling happier all round.

Tips for Exercising During Chemotherapy

Now that we know that it is possible, and advisable, to remain active throughout your cancer treatment, how can you do so? Here are some tips we found on a number of medical sites to help:

Avoid Inactivity

Inactivity may just be the enemy, especially considering the weakness of muscles and bones that can be caused from chemo. So, be sure to at least get up on your feet and moving as regularly as you can throughout the course of treatment. A little bit of exercise is better than none.

Consider Specific Exercises

With the symptoms chemotherapy can bring on, there are some specific exercises that you can do to reduce the effects. Some of these may include:

  • Strength building exercises
  • Aerobic or cardio activity
  • Balance exercises
  • Stretching
  • Breathing exercises

Consider Timing

It’s true that your physical symptoms may halt your ideas of getting active. Because of this, you’ll need to exercise when you’re feeling most up to it, and should consider the following before getting started:

  • If you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and anaemia, don’t exercise.
  • If your muscle coordination isn’t great, don’t exercise or consider taking a spotter with you.
  • The same goes for if you’re experiencing numbness in the hands and feet.
  • If Adriamycin is part of your chemotherapy treatment, you shouldn’t exercise on the day you get chemotherapy, and only do low intensity exercises on the days after that.

Consider the Environment

As we’ve discussed, chemotherapy can lead to decreased immunity, leading to infections along the way. Because of this, it’s really important to consider whereabouts you’re exercising.

Take Your Time

The truth is, you’re not going to be able to achieve the same exercise regime as you did before your diagnosis. Because of this, it’s important that you take it easy on yourself, and try not to push yourself too hard.

Your body is going through a huge amount of stress, and any intense activity may even set you back in terms of your recovery. Try and be as patient as possible, easing yourself into more intense workouts when your treatment is complete.

Always Consult Your Doctor

The most important step of all? Consult your doctor before doing anything during your chemo treatment.

The truth is, everybody reacts differently to chemotherapy, and your doctor knows best. You can work together to come up with a solution that works for you to ensure your recovery is speedy and successful. They can even help you to discover the right exercise modifications that will work for your specific situation.

What Are Your Next Steps?

As we’ve seen in this article, the physical and emotional impact of chemotherapy can be extreme. This is especially true if you’ve experienced a delay in diagnosis, which is happening more and more with COVID-19 in the picture. This means that more aggressive treatment is required, which can have a much greater impact on the body.

With all this to deal with, we hope this article has shown you that it is possible to exercise during your cancer treatment. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions, and consult your doctor before doing anything.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.