Cancer Fatigue and Exercise

It’s hard to imagine, you’re in treatment for cancer, you’re fatigued. So fatigued that sleep doesn’t help, and, you’re told that if you go take a 15 minute walk you’ll feel better. Sure. And what planet are they from? But, it’s true, moderate exercise can help to combat the fatigue you’re experiencing.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure there aren’t any underlying causes for the fatigue. Have your oncology team rule out anemia, infection, dehydration, meds or other causes.

Once you’ve ruled out any underlying causes,  you’ll want to begin a slowly and add-on as you’re feeling stronger. One suggestion, begin walking for 10 minutes. Add time each week. Your goal is to reach 30 minutes — of any type of cardio activity – 5 days a week. Then, you’ll add some strength training. Begin with one exercise for each major muscle group and work up to 3 sets of 12 reps.

A suggested strength program would look like this:
Back – 1 arm row
Legs – Sit to Stand
Chest – Bench press
Legs – Side lunges
Shoulders – Scaption
Legs – Sit to Stand
Biceps – Arm Curls
Legs – Heel Raises
Triceps – Kick backs
Core – Pelvic Tilts
Bridges
Bird Dogs
Leg Marches
Stretch all the muscles you just worked.

When doing cardio, begin with what you can tolerate and add one 1% per week.  That means if you walk for 10 minutes 5 days a week in week one, walk 11 minutes 5 times a week in week two. Be sure to stretch after your walk.

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