Exercise and radiotherapy

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It is a misconception that exercise should be avoided during radiotherapy. Its true your ability to perform strenuous exercise will be impaired but light exercise should be encouraged. There are several good reasons why light exercise is often helpful.


Cancer and certainly its therapies often cause fatigue. Light and stimulating exercise can help to reduce this. This has to carefully balanced. Although plenty of rest is important, between these times it is better to be active. For example a sleep after lunch may be required but then it would be useful to put on a pair of training shoes and go for walk in the open - preferably in pleasant stimulating surroundings such as a park or riverbank. Although this seems a great effort at first, patients often find their overall levels of fatigue are reduced. (also see living with fatigue)

Cancer can  increase the risk of thrombosis - particularly if there is any disease in the pelvis or lower abdomen. On top of this if patients are less active this further increases the risk. Regular exercise cause the blood to be pumped through the veins and reduce the risk of it stagnating and clotting in the veins.

Nausea can be a problem with some radiotherapy therapies. If it is mild sometimes an walk or gentle run can do wonders.

Radiotherapy can cause thickening on the skin and underlying tissues. Exercise especially if associated with stretching can reduce this underlying thickening.

Exercise improves your mood by releasing endorphines into the blood stream. This may also prevent the onset of depression.





Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.

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