Exercise is beneficial both during and after cancer treatment or recovery.

Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwick, PymbleBalmain and Neutral Bay  discuss the many benefits of exercising after cancer and how you can get started. 


Cancer survival rates vary from cancer to cancer, but overall survival rates are improving (AIHW, 2021). Exercise has been shown to manage many of the side effects that can occur post cancer treatments and reduce the risk of cancer returning in many instances. Exercise also plays a huge role in helping people re-build their capacity for daily activities, regain confidence and enhance their overall wellbeing.


Here a few ways exercise can help manage side effects:

  • Reduces the severity of lymphoedema (swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid) and its symptoms.


  • With gradual progression and monitoring, exercise can help manage and reduce fatigue. This is because exercise increases our bodies’ capacity to handle stress and load; meaning you can do more in your day before fatigue sets in.


  • Often the immune system is compromised post cancer treatments. Exercise combats this side effect because it improves the function of the immune system response.


  • Some treatments can affect bone health. Strength training and weight bearing activities (appropriate to the individual) can reduce the rate of bone loss. This is because the pulling action of muscle on bone combined with forces going through the bone, helps to stimulate bone growth and development. This creates a positive stress that encourages bone to adapt and become stronger.


  • Exercise has been shown to improve nerve function and reduce nerve pain which can also occur as a result of cancer treatments.

It’s important to start at the right level and gradually build up exercise capacity. Some days may be harder than others, but even a few minutes of exercise in a day can be beneficial. It’s about trusting the process and remembering that every little bit adds up over time.


Exercise Physiologists are the experienced and skilled in helping individuals exercise after cancer.

Delivering individualised exercise prescription that takes in to account a person’s full health history and simultaneously understands the challenges of a very physically and mentally draining illness is so important when beginning a new exercise routine.


Goals of exercise can be prioritised according to what an individual values most. For example, this could be symptom management, mood improvement, minimising declines in cardiorespiratory fitness, or reversing loss of muscle mass. A good goal to work up to is achieving the Physical Activity Guidelines. This involves 150-300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week AND 2-3 strength training days per week.


If you or someone you know is struggling with the return to exercise post cancer or during treatment, Longevity Exercise Physiologists are here to help. Call Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista and Neutral Bay on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.


Written By Courtney Maher



Hayes, S.C., Newton, R.U., Spence, R.R., & Galvao, D.A. (2019). The exercise and sports science Australia position statement: Exercise medicine in cancer management. Journal of science and medicine in sport, (22), 1175-1199.

Cancer Council. (2021). Exercise- Getting Started. Retrieved from: https://www.cancervic.org.au/living-with-cancer/exercise/getting-started

AIHW. (2021, Janurary 1st). Cancer in Australia 2021. Retrieved from AIHW: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports