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Surviving Cancer -How Physical Activity Can Help

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Surviving Cancer in Staten Island, NY: How Physical Activity Can Help

Oncology Rehabilitation Services: 718-818-3163

Physical activity plays an important part in preventing and controlling cancer. Staying active after a cancer diagnosis can help lower the risk of recurrence and can lead to longer survival. In addition, avoiding inactivity can:

  • Lessen fatigue
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improve mood and boost self-esteem
  • Reduce nausea, pain, diarrhea
  • Strengthen the immune system’s ability to attack tumors

Before you begin any exercise program, talk with your doctor.  Some people may need to take special care. It is important to start an exercise program slowly and increase activity over time; it doesn’t need to be scary, forceful, or continuous. Even small activities like stretching or moving your arms or legs can help you stay flexible, relieve muscle tension, and help you feel better. Physical activity can start with 10 minutes of walking a day and you can find simple ways to increase it:

  • Park the car a little further away and walk
  • Take the stairs not the elevator – start  with one flight
    • Stand up & move or gently stretch during every TV commercial
    • Walk around while talking on the phone
    • Walk to a co-worker or neighbor to talk, instead of  calling or emailing
    • Lift cans or bottles of detergent (aim for three sets of ten)

You should try to be as physically active as (your) abilities and conditions allow (US Dept of Health & Human Services, 2008)

Ideally, your goals will include:

  1. 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least 5 days a week (Rule of thumb: during moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, biking, swimming, you would be able to talk but not sing)
  2. Include (3) main types of exercise: aerobic, resistance training, stretching exercise

Your physician may refer you to a physical therapist or to someone trained &/or certified to develop a cancer exercise program.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a free 12 week, small group program designed for adult cancer survivors. YMCA fitness instructors work with each participant   to fit the program to their individual needs. Instructors are trained in the elements of cancer, post rehab exercise and supportive cancer care.

Your activities should fit into your daily life, be enjoyable and feel safe. Be aware of warning signs that might indicate a problem:

  • Pain or pressure in the chest, back, throat, jaw
  • Nausea or vomiting during or after exercise
  • A sudden burst of a rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness, feeling faint or dizzy
  • Inability to catch your breath
  • Feeling very weak or tired

Remember!  Avoid inactivity.  You can “reduce fatigue, stimulate  your immune system and nourish your body, mind, heart and spirit.” (

Since 1937, our Cancer Program has held  the approval of the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, one of the most prestigious national accreditations in the field of cancer.

Call to schedule an appointment: Oncology Rehabilitation Services: 718-818-3163