Cancer and Exercise

Today people with a cancer diagnosis are encouraged to move! Exercise and physical activity assists in cancer prevention, recovery and survival.


The American College of Sports Medicine, the Department of Health and Human Services, the journal Oncology, and most recently, the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), all recommend exercise for people with Cancer. You should be as physically active as your condition and abilities allow. You may surprise yourself. (1)

Unfortunately there are many cancer treatment side effects. Side effects of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and hormone therapy can include:

  • Fatigue

  • Lymphedema

  • Reduced quality of life

  • Depression

  • Sarcopenia (increase in body fat and decrease in muscle mass)

  • Increased risk of heart disease

  • Bone loss

  • Reduce range of movement

  • Pelvic floor issues

  • Increased incidence of falls due to peripheral neuropathy and deconditioning.


Learn more about these side effects and how we can help in our blog.


Exercise has been found in many clinical studies to have a positive effect on ALL of the side effects listed above. The type of exercise and physical activity benefits vary with each modality.


Physical activity and exercise plays in reducing cancer risk, decreasing treatment side effects, speeding recovery after diagnosis and enhancing survival. (2)


When prescribing an exercise program, the Exercise Physiologists and Kinesiologists at Back on Track Fitness apply the principles of evidenced based medicine in cancer rehabilitation. We individually tailor a program, according to a patient’s specific health status and response to treatment, being mindful of issues such as lymphedema, cardiomyopathy, peripheral neuropathy, wound healing, limitations placed on range of movement by cancer operations, cancer related fatigue and “Chemo-brain”, a phenomenon of cognitive impairment caused by chemotherapy treatment effecting memory, attention and co-ordination.


Our goal at Back On Track Fitness is to make you feel safe, confident, and well informed to “move beyond cancer.”


  1. Lemanne D, Cassileth B, Gubili J. The role of physical activity in cancer prevention, treatment, recovery, and survivorship. Oncology (Williston Park) 2013; 27(6):580-5.

  2. Schmitz KH, Troxel AB, Cheville A, et al. Physical Activity and Lymphedema (the PAL trial): assessing the safety of progressive strength training in breast cancer survivors. Contemp Clin Trials 2009; 30(3):233-45.

  3. Schmitz KH, Ahmed RL, Troxel AB, et al. Weight lifting for women at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema: a randomized trial. JAMA 2010; 304(24):2699-705.

  4. Chang CJ, Cormier JN. Lymphedema interventions: exercise, surgery, and compression devices. Semin Oncol Nurs 2013; 29(1):28-40.

  5. Cramp F, Byron-Daniel J. Exercise for the management of cancer-related fatigue in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012; 11:CD006145.

  6. Schmitz KH, Courneya KS, Matthews C, et al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2010; 42(7):1409-26