Exercise – BAD for Cancer and Good for YOU!


The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that 25% of cancer cases worldwide are caused by overweight or obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. These lifestyle patterns may increase cancer risk by several mechanisms including increased estrogens and testosterone, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, increased inflammation, and depressed immune function.

Take a Hike From Cancer:

Exercise is BAD for Cancer and Good for YOU!

By Karen Tripp MS LMFT

President and Founder cancer Companions

 GOOD NEWS!! With all the confusion when dealing with cancer, one thing doctors, researchers and nutritionist all seem to agree on is exercise is BAD for cancer.


You don’t actually expect me to exercise if I’m in cancer treatment- do you?

Well… yes.  Of course, discuss with your doctor the type of exercise you are considering to ensure it will be safe but research studies show a positive effect of exercise on patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for many different types of cancer.

Really?  That does not seem reasonable.  How much exercise are we talking?

The idea is to start slowly and build up gradually.  Your starting place might be walking to the mail box every day.  Some people may begin with a 10 minute walk around the block while others might start with 20 minutes of exercise.  The goal is to exercise 30 minutes a day five times a week.

Can exercising help me with my cancer treatment?

Yes, exercise can improve your physical wellbeing and spur your recovery.  Exercise plays a role in decreasing cancer side effects, speeding recovery and enhancing survival.

When should I start exercising?

Sooner the better.  Some experts recommend beginning an exercise routine before you begin treatment- especially if you have been inactive. The sooner you start exercising, the better you’ll feel, the fewer medications you’re likely to need, and the lower your risk will be for complications, says Andréa Leiserowitz, physical therapy supervisor at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, an affiliate of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. (4)

But I get so tired.  Surely with this fatigue you don’t expect me to exercise?

Studies show it could reduce your fatigue.  Research has found no harmful effects on patients with cancer from moderate exercise and, in fact, has demonstrated that those who exercised regularly had 40% to 50% less fatigue.

Anything I should watch out for?

  • Listen to your body; if you’re not feeling well or running a fever- don’t exercise.
  • With radiation therapy, avoid swimming pools; they can expose you to bacteria that may cause infections and the chlorine may irritate radiated skin.
  • If you are concerned about the effects of lymphedema (a chronic arm swelling that affects some cancer patients after lymph node removal) exercises can be prescribed to improve range of motion and prevent lymphedema.
  • Be careful. if you try to do too much, you may become discouraged and stop exercising altogether.



Can exercise really help reduce my risk of the cancer coming back?

Yes!  Exercising can help a cancer survivor live a longer life- free from cancer.  Are you looking for a way to reduce the effects of both the cancer and the treatment?  Do you want to recover your level of functioning? Then exercising is for you.

Do you realize that my body is not the same since my cancer diagnosis?

Absolutely, a cancer diagnosis slows people down.  Treatment often includes stress, depression and feeling sick or fatigued which can make a person a lot less active.  The problem is if you stay less active.  Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. Doing any activity is better than doing nothing.

But my fatigue from treatment does not seem to be going away.

Fatigue is common in cancer recovery but exercising can help. “As a long-term solution to the problem of fatigue, taking it easy and avoiding activity is not a good solution,” says Kerry Courneya, PhD, professor and Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Cancer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “It is important for cancer survivors to get back to exercising to help their recovery.”

“Sometimes fatigue can be so severe that it is good to rest” temporarily, according to Courneya. Rest for a while, start again slowly and build up. Over the long term, your energy level will increase.

When do I start?

Start as soon as possible with a small amount of activity and build your energy over time. Be sure to see your doctor before beginning a moderate to vigorous exercise program.

These types of exercise can help cancer patients – and everyone else – get back in shape:

  1. Flexibility exercises (stretching).
  2. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, and swimming.
  3. Resistance training (Lifting weights or isometric exercise), which builds muscle.

Find an exercise specialist to design a program for you. American cancer society recommends 30-60 minutes moderate to vigorous activity 5 days a week.

Are there any downsides to exercising after cancer treatment?

Like anyone, there’s potential for soreness, strains and sprains but the benefits can be HUGE!   Exercise for cancer patients may carry a slightly higher risk for heart problems which is why it’s good to have approval form your doctor.


Do you mean my teenage sister and my grandma could help lower their risk of cancer through exercise?

Yes! That exercise decreases cancer risk is well known, as many studies document the population-wide inverse association between physical activity and cancer incidence.

How much?

Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

Then I think we put this link at the end of the prevention section:



Seeing God in Your Cancer Journey blog

God wants to give you more during your cancer journey than you can perceive!! GOAL: Increase things we seek God for and pray to God for.

Cancer and Exercise

  1. Walking Tips
  2. Walk Team leaders Stories
  3. Healthy Living devos

God is Bigger Than Living Room Drapes

“Too often I fall prey to the temptation of ‘good enough’”

“In John 10:10b Jesus said “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”.

“Do you believe that you deserve to live life with more energy, more self-confidence- in other words- more abundance?  Do you believe that your body can be a source of joy instead of a source of worry?  Is your need for consistent exercise in your life worth praying for?  “

God is Bigger Than Multiplication Tables

“We don’t typically talk about temptation these days but it’s still here.  “

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.   1 Corinthians 10:13

“The hardest part of living a healthy lifestyle is overcoming the temptation to quit.  “


God is Bigger than King Size Laundry Hampers

“Unfortunately, I have also used this dodging tactic to avoid exercising.“

“Romans 12:1 says “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship.”

“Let’s face it, caring for our bodies requires sacrifice. “


God is Bigger Than Stubborn Jars Lids

“Are their things in your life you do not ask for God’s strength because you believe that you should have the strength to tackle this one on you own”

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29

“Are you asking God to give you strength to exercise regularly and eat healthy”


God is Bigger Than a Used Car Radio

“ …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23  Looking down the list I was thrilled with each of these wonderful gifts until I saw self-control.   Really?  Self-Control?”

“I finally wrapped my head around the idea that I couldn’t build self-control into my life without prayer.”

God is Bigger Than Dress Shopping

“We see ourselves as we are instead of how we can be.  Take our body.  We know the body in the mirror should be slimmer, fitter, stronger, more rested, less stressed and dare I say healthier and yet too often we feel stuck with what we have.”

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

“Love that verse!!  God starts off with “See!” – look around!  I’m here and I’m doing amazing things!  Then He ends with “do you not perceive it?”  God is pushing you to see the possibilities of the new things He wants in your life.  Even for something that may feel difficult to improve like your health.”


God is Bigger Than Microwave Foods

“Most of us can admit that when it comes to our health, at times, we know how to care for ourselves, we’re just not doing it.”

Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

“Fight the temptation that says your body is not important.  After all, as a believer, it is none other than Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, Wonderful Counselor, King of Kings who lives in you.  Wow.  Kind of makes you think.”

God is Bigger Than a Lotus Europa

Our bodies are not meant to sit; they are meant to move.  How much is your body moving these days?

In Psalm 139:14, the author clearly recognized that our bodies are a miraculous gift.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

“Do you know my favorite part of the verse above? “I know that full well.” How incredible would it be for you to truly know “full well” that your body, with all its difficulties, is STILL fearfully and wonderfully made

About Karen Tripp

Beyond being a Christian Counselor and the President of Cancer Companions, Karen loves to read (she's a great reader) and loves to sing (she's a bad singer) in her home near St Louis, MO. Cancer has personally touched Karen's personal life through her dad - a 23 year colon cancer survivor. Impacting lives for Christ through her speaking, writing and counseling fills Karen with a passion which infuses every task she approaches. (except matching socks. Karen hates matching socks.)
This entry was posted in Cancer and Exercise. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *