Cancer Center News

Whatever your goal in 2011, diet and exercise can certainly help reduce side effects of cancer treatment, improve your mood and increase overall health.

Small steps, big benefits in 2011

Exercising during and after treatment

11/Jan/2011

Small steps, big benefits in 2011 This time of year advertisers promise a “new year, new you”. But many patients dealing with the symptoms and side effects of cancer and treatment just want to feel like themselves again. Whatever your goal in 2011, diet and exercise can certainly help reduce side effects of cancer treatment, improve your mood and increase overall health.

Exercise is particularly important for patients with cancer

Physical activity is crucial to any person’s overall health, but for patients with cancer, even minimal exercise can make a dramatic improvement in health and well-being. Exercise can help:

  • Reduce fatigue: This seems counterintuitive, but being more active can actually increase your energy level.
  • Increase appetite and aid digestion: Maintaining a healthy weight and nutrient balance is crucial to tolerating treatment. Exercise can help keep your appetite up and improve regularity.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety: Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever, and regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and promote a more positive outlook.
  • Relieve physical discomfort: The right exercises, as directed by your physician, can help reduce the pain of specific side effects like lymphedema.

Starting out small

We’ve all heard the phrase “no pain, no gain”, but adding small amounts of activity gradually into your daily life can have a very positive impact – no discomfort required! Make sure to discuss your unique health concerns and goals with your oncologist, nutritionist or other clinician. They might recommend small steps like:

  • Wearing a pedometer: Measure the steps you take each day, and gradually increase that number. Tracking your steps with a friend or family member can be a fun way to stay motivated.
  • Trying something new: The Cancer Center’s HOPES Program offers activities like gentle yoga and Qi Gong (similar to tai chi) specifically tailored to the needs of patients with cancer.
  • Finding the right equipment: Although you don’t need special equipment to start and maintain a healthy exercise program, some patients benefit from low-impact workouts like water aerobics or riding stationary bikes.
  • Beating the cold and the heat: New England weather is not always conducive to outdoor activity. Try exercising indoors at home or walking in public places like indoor malls.
  • Setting realistic goals: If you’re already an active person, work with your clinician to adjust the frequency and intensity of your workouts.

Need help getting started? Reach out to your oncologist, nurse practitioner, or nutritionist, or call the Survivorship Program at 617-724-1396.

patient

U.S. News and World Report Best Hospitals 2014-2015

U.S. News & World Report ranks Mass General #1 in New England and #2 in the nation based on our quality of care, patient safety and reputation in 16 clinical specialties.

Search the Mass General news archive

Search the archive for previously published news articles, press releases and publications.

View all departments

Departments and Centers at Mass General have a reputation for excellence in patient care. View a list of all departments.