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Being active or returning to exercise after a blood cancer diagnosis can be hard but there are many forms of exercise you can try to suit you. Here is some advice to get you started.
If you’re becoming more active after your treatment, the amount of activity appropriate for you do will depend on different things such as side effects, symptoms, you'll level of fitness before treatment.
It is important to set yourself realistic goals and to listen to your body. You should start with gentle and low intensity activities. You’ll be able to build up progressively as you become stronger and fitter.
Although there are numerous benefits to being physically active throughout treatment, your individual exercise regime should be tailored for what’s safe for your current state and what works best for you. It can of course help encourage you to be active if the physical activity is something you enjoy doing. The physical activity you do should be realistic and try to be similar to activity you already engage in, what you can do now, and any physical problems or limits you have. For example, if you usually leisurely jog a few miles a day, it isn’t very realistic or advisable to decide to take on 20 miles every day.
You may find that certain things may affect your ability to engage in physical activity for example:
If you exercised regularly before treatment you might need to reduce the intensity of the physical activity you usually do, meaning you may do less than usual or do it at a lower intensity during treatment. People who were fairly inactive before they started their blood cancer treatment are recommended to start trying to engage in short, low-intensity activity, such as short slow walks.
For older people or people affected by something called peripheral neuropathy (numbness in hands or feet), it is important that you are careful with the physical activity you take as safety and balance are important to reduce the risk of falling and injuring yourself when exercising.
It is important to keep your doctor or medical team informed on how your physical activity is going throughout your treatment as they will be able to help you tailor your exercise regime depending on any side effects you may be experiencing or on how you are feeling.
When, or if, you have finished a course of treatment, most of the side effects you experience will improve within a few weeks after your treatment ends. If you were active before your treatment and diagnosis, you may notice that your previous fitness levels and muscle strength have changed. In most cases you will be able to slowly increase the time and intensity at which your exercise at. Because of a change in fitness levels, activity that may have previously been a low-intensity activity, now may seem like a high-intensity one which can sometimes put you off persevering.
Remembering that even engaging in small activities such as a brisk walk, you will slowly build your fitness back.
Published: Feb 2016
Next planned review: Feb 2018