CLL and Exercise - Can it do you any harm?

I am on my 3rd Cycle of Ofatumumap and Bendamustine having been diagnosed with CLL back in April this year.

I cannot say that I feel really well at any time, I just have better days than others. I seem to suffer mostly with aches and pains and fatigue. I exercise quite a bit which I enjoy, I play Badminton and spend some time in the gym and also cycle when I can.

My question is can exercise do you any harm when you have CLL, am I over doing it ?????


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6 Replies

  • Hi John,

    From what I've read plus my experience, the benefits from exercising far outweigh the disadvantages. I've found exercise improved my fatigue levels - but I have been in the situation where I've been too fatigued to be active. If you are more fatigued than usual after longer or more strenuous exercise than usual, then you'll need to pace yourself. That took me several years to learn.

    Other than that, you may just need to carefully choose your exercise options to limit risk of infection if that's a problem for you (it doesn't seem to be) and likewise risk of injury if you find healing is taking significantly longer or you have a high risk of infection.


    PS I've edited your post title - CLL is a tad too generic here :)

  • I have always exercised regularly and my consultant and my GP both said it was important to continue after being diagnosed with CLL. The only limitation was "listen to your body." I feel more tired when I don't do any exercise. It is easy to put it off particularly when the weather turns cold.


  • Hi John,

    There is growing evidence that moderate exercise is highly beneficial for those with any leukaemia.

    One simple fact is that one highly important component of our blood is neutrophils and these do not naturally circulate. It takes muscular action to move neutrophils away from their manufacture in the bone and properly circulating. Neutrophils go to places of inflammation and help fight bacteria and some cancers.

    Doctor Susan Leclair, wrote as follows:- ‘ Note that new Neutrophils when they have just left the bone marrow will marginate.

    This means that they will line up along the blood vessels. Which is why some gentle exercise is good as this will loosen the neutrophils and get them circulating in the blood stream and thus going to work to find and kill bacteria.’

    And from Wikipedia..

    The average lifespan of (non-activated human) neutrophils in the circulation is about 5.4 days. Upon activation, they marginate (position themselves adjacent to the blood vessel endothelium), and undergo selectin-dependent capture followed by integrin-dependent adhesion in most cases, after which they migrate into tissues, where they survive for 1–2 days.

    Neutrophils are much more numerous than the longer-lived monocyte/macrophage phagocytes. A pathogen (disease-causing microorganism or virus) is likely to first encounter a neutrophil.

    One word of very slight caution would be the use of a gym. Often gyms are places that can be warm, damp and perhaps steamy. All good places for germs to flourish. Thus some slight care should be taken in locker and shower rooms. Be especially careful of swimming pools and hot tubs as these can be an even higher risk area. CLL does leave one more susceptible to infections, since our immune systems do not function properly.

    Good luck and keep up the exercise routines, I know I will be using the spinning cycle indoors or cycling outdoors, weather permitting.


  • I believe exercise under the direction of your doctor can be of benefit. Perhaps you are overdoing it, if you are experiencing aches, pains and fatigue...

    Chemoimmunotherapy is cumulative, so you should run your exercise regime by your CLL doctor, for advice...

  • Right On, Dick, I was just talking about this with my consultant yesterday. My neutrophils are a healthy 6.7 and my Hb and platelets are on the up.

    I told my consultant I was thinking of going back in the gym and she thinks it's a good idea. The Gym is very close so I will have a shower at home.

    Not to confuse people I should say I am not on chemo, but on Imbruvica. Also that I have been 'active' since my diagnosis with the 11q deletion, and long before as a runner/tennis player and gym work.

    I wouldn't like to advise anyone on chemo, they should talk to their consultant but I'm sure gentle exercise would be beneficial.

    Now, off to the tennis court :)

  • A video on a person who exercised during and after cancer.


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