Most Cancer Patients Reduce Physical Activity ... - CLL Support

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Most Cancer Patients Reduce Physical Activity Despite Potential Benefits


We've had plenty of past posts about the benefits of exercise for better health with cancer, yet it seems the message isn't being delivered or received as well as it could be.

“Many people associated cancer treatment with needing to rest, but we’re learning that moderate forms of physical activity can not only help patients feel better generally but also, in some cases, potentially improve their cancer outcomes,” said Sally A. D. Romero, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.


The study included 662 cancer patients, with a mean age of 59.9 years; most were female (65%), white (81%), and overweight/obese (65%). The most common cancer in the study was breast cancer (32%), followed by lung/thoracic tumors (15%) and hematologic malignancies (15%). Most patients received chemotherapy (88%), radiation (53%), and/or surgery (53%).

Most patients were more than 12 months from their diagnosis (53%). Since that diagnosis, 75% reported decreasing physical activity levels, while 16% maintained similar levels and 4% increased their activity.

From Cancer Network - requires free registration:


Photo: One of the benefits I enjoy while exercising is coming across native wildlife, like this swamp wallaby, sadly found in a wildlife enclosure.

39 Replies

Here's looking at you!.

Great . Thanks Neil.


I know that exercise is good for us but whenit's freezing cold outside the motivation is hard to

Muster. Even harder when it raining and cold!!

Now reading on the BBC news tweets. Can't wait to watch this match. Ps do you know who won theAustralian open.


AussieNeilAdministrator in reply to wroxham-gb

I've devoted the space most people use for following sport to following developments in CLL, so sorry, I don't know who won the Australian Open :(

Thanks Neil, I've just read the results. Have just come back from a long walk.

Now ready to sit and watch the match.


BCTexas in reply to wroxham-gb

...that's why I bought a treadmill.

Salohcin in reply to BCTexas

Me to, well a cross trainer as sometimes even the dogs don't like going out in horrible weather. I have to push myself but always feel better when I've finished

Getting past the fatigue and energising oneself to get out and exercise can be really tough.

But time and time again we read that exercise is greatly beneficial for all cancer patients.

Perhaps the best medicine that you will ever buy is a decent pair of walking shoes/boots.


HI Neil, Hi Sue, Dick too.

I kept telling myself that exercise is good for me as I plodded up hill and down in the pouring rain here in Wales this morning. My legs were willing but my arms got tired holding a big umbrella.

Do you think I could count that as additional beneficial exercise ? :)

Have a good day


wroxham-gb in reply to Bubnojay

We're you singing as well?

Ps I do walk quite a lot but it's down to making myself this time of year.

Best wishes.


DMary in reply to Bubnojay

It absolutely counts!

Kind of like saying 'Does running late count as Exercise'. Just a little levity this morning. Bubnjay1, I do think you can consider what you did plodding up and down hill additional exercise. Carole

Get Up and Move. It May Make You Happier.

‘ When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still, according to an interesting new study that used cellphone data to track activities and moods.

In general, the researchers found, people who move are more content than people who sit.

There already is considerable evidence that physical activity is linked to psychological health. Epidemiological studies have found, for example, that people who exercise or otherwise are active typically are less prone to depression and anxiety than sedentary people. ’

‘For the new study, which was published this month in PLoS One, researchers at the University of Cambridge in England decided to try a different approach. They would look, they decided, at correlations between movement and happiness, that most positive of emotions. In addition, they would look at what people reported about their activity and compare it with objective measures of movement.’

More at this link:-


ygtgo in reply to Kwenda

If I could get up and move I'd be a happy bunny, especially as I live in an area of great walks ... next to some beautiful Scottish Hills,

I have been reduced to suppine exercise ... what ever happened to this fine young ( handsome ) athlete that could run all day .... ?

This morning I'm on pain killers, and all I have done is go downstairs ...

To make matters worse, I'm being stalked by an 'auld ' guy that I see in every reflective surface ....

Woe, Woe and thrice Oww!


DMary in reply to ygtgo

Maybe I'll tackle supine exercise next. I practice meditation and there are 4 forms for meditation, sitting, standing, walking and lying, but I've always ignored the 4th form. Until now, but I'm finding it very doable :)

Coincidentally I've got an old gal stalking me! I'm trying to befriend her. We'll see how it goes.

Just an idea...... My wife and I added a spinner to our living room furniture 3 weeks ago. We downloaded some videos (spinner videos) from youtube and cycle along with the youtube instructor. :) Purchased the Spinner on Craigslist for $400.... It is winter time here in Pennsylvania.

Great idea and one that I have done myself also..

In the summer it is cycling or walking in the outdoors.

In winter if really cold and or wet I use an indoor cycling ' Spinner ' bicycle.

Available on Amazon from cheap ones to many UK pounds, they arrive either complete or as a kit of parts, which I found a useful way to get the machine upstairs.


Can I promote Tai Chi as a form of exercise. It uses and stretches muscles. Aids controlled deep breathing and meditation. Tai chi done properly is hard, not just waving hands. Whilst on watch and wait it was invaluable when shortness of breath stopped my walking up hills at speed.

I do walk everyday and now that treatment is over I walk at quite a pace. However, I won't go out and get drenched. That I think is a risk. Touch wood no illness this winter when all around me have been waylaid.

ladyprescott in reply to devonrr

I do yoga twice a week and we incorporate a few tai chi moves with it. I love the breathing aspect of yoga. Do an hour and now have the video of our instructor so can do a third day at home. Sometimes I don't want to go, but when it's over I feel better and happy I went. Carole

My job(s) require me to move (a lot!) but I guess that's not the same?

Now if someone wiuld run in front of me dangling a mars bar on a stick.......I could maybe be persuaded!

Peggy 😀

scarletnoir in reply to Peggy4

Moving for your job absolutely counts! You probably don't need to do a lot on top of that.

When I was working, my office was on the 4th floor, and I usually needed to go up and down 3-4 times a day - I never used the lift on purpose, to provide exercise. Anyone without mobility issues can take decisions like that.

Peggy4 in reply to scarletnoir

I also live in a four storey house with three full flights of on ground floor, bathroom on 4th. I SHOULD be thin! 😀

AussieNeilAdministrator in reply to scarletnoir

Yes it is called incidental exercise and is an extremely effective way of building more exercise into your daily routine with little to no need to take time away from other tasks.

Salohcin in reply to Peggy4

10,000 steps a day Peggy, come on you can do it!

Peggy4 in reply to Salohcin

Hmm. Back and foward to the fridge? 1 2 3 4 .................


Salohcin in reply to Peggy4

That's the spirit, Very proud of you, now relax and unwind with a glass of red 😂

You and the lovely wildlife pictures are slowly inspiring me to get out of the house. I've definately stopped much of the physical activity that I enjoyed before the fatigue really set in. I keep reading that exercise helps fatigue and I trust it does in the long run. Right now short outings are wearing me out for the day, but I'm encouraged to keep at it. Thanks!

I just finished bicycling 21 tunnels in Italy without leaving my living room in Pennsylvania....

I've used a step counter for over 10 years. I used to be able to do 7000 steps per day. Lately, I had been doing 1000 to 2000, and felt very tired and achey. Even a short 100m walk left me exhausted.

My calves and feet were already swelling due to edema when I tore the meniscus and ACL in my left knee last May. The knee collapsed several times in subsequent weeks. The orthopedist did not recommend surgery, but said it would take a long time to heal, and would never be strong again. I feared I might develop an embolism from sitting so much.

I bought pressure stockings for my legs, and got more and more breathless. I could get out of breath taking a hot shower. Cardiological tests (chemical stress, EKG, ultrasounds) all came back negative. My BP and pulse are both in the low normal range.

Our elliptical exercise machine at home seemed to make the knee worse even after a minute or two - just the wrong angles, I think.

Finally, 6 months after the injury, I called a different orthopedist, who prescribed physical therapy. Simple calf and hamstring stretches. Leg lifts. Leg curls. 5 minutes on a recumbent stationary bicycle worked up a sweat. Sit-to-stand (sit on the edge a stair, and stand without pushing up with arms) was the hardest. My hips have spasms and ache after awhile.

Two weeks later, I feel very different. I've gotten my pulse above 100 several times. I still get scary pain in the knee from time to time, and so I go a little easier, ice it, and take an aspirin.

With the exception of the recumbent bike, none of the exercises I did requires equipment. The whole sequence takes maybe 45 minutes, but I feel so different. It's only been 3 weeks, 3 times a week. But I do a lighter version at home (no bike, and fewer repetitions) - 30 minutes.

I do still wake up with unexplained aches and arthritis in every injured joint from time to time. The pain goes away by late morning. I'm still tired, and still take a nap every day after lunch. But I feel some energy returning, and most of all, the hope that comes from feeling a small improvement. I can do 30 sit-to-stands. I can do 30 straight leg lifts (while lying down). I started at 10 on those the first week.

I do take a day or two off each week, and try to listen to my body talk. It complains so much, and misleads me often. Massive fatigue is very bad - joints can easily tear. But slight fatigue can disappear for me with a mild uptick in pulse - to 80. Depression is still an issue, too. I'm on meds for that, but depression symptoms vary a lot.

I'll get rid of the elliptical, and I'm shopping for a recumbent workstation bike.

So I think even regular, light to moderate exercise has benefits. After hitting a nadir, I feel like I'm on an upswing, and can avoid some co-morbidity issues when treatment time comes someday.


I'd keep swerving on to the oncoming traffic .... well I am from the UK.

Hi ygtgo,

This one is for you......

Running upstairs seems like a good idea !

I was running three miles 4 times a week and did a half marathon in April 2015. I was diagnosed shortly after. I can't seem to get back into running as the fatigue is unbearable with each stride. I keep trying. Still wait and watch here. Anyone else have trouble running?

AussieNeilAdministrator in reply to Jemisavs5

I'm not a runner, but go walking and cycling to maintain my fitness. I became extremely fatigued following a CMV infection shortly after diagnosis and it took me a long time ~18 months, to get back to around 80% (at best) of my earlier fitness. I only made a breakthrough from wiping myself out for several days when I learned to very, very slowly increase how much exercise I did and got my vitamin D level back into the normal range. Prior to that, I'd feel good when exercising and not getting any warning signs from my body, I'd overdo it (which was far less than I used to be capable of doing). I'd feel fine the rest of the day, but struggled with bad fatigue for up to several days afterwards. Try building up from small runs.

what we write here, stays here, right?

So when no-one is looking, I put on good music and dance, stretching and jumping etc. As an overweight grandmother, I know I am no Pavlova, but it's very releasing and fun. I make myself finish the song so that I know I am moving for at least those minutes.

And I empathize with everything said above about lack of energy, and the aftereffects of overdoing it.

mgh348 in reply to Safta

This gets me going also. :-)

No the message has not been well received for the following reasons.

1. In the UK look out of the window and what do you see. Not a lot, it is dark for nearly 15 hours and day and it's very cold, gray and wet.

2. My nearest gym is women only which is really useful.

3. My closest pseudo local authority gym is a good drive away. I would like to join but they won't offer me a discount as I would only want to use it when I am feeling OK, for a few days in any week.

4. The nearest swimming pool is again a good drive away. It is neither cheap, neither S the parking fees and nor is the pool very clean in my opinion. Both important factors if you have CLL.

5. There are a number of private gyms and pools which I would need to drive to. These are really nice but very expensive member only affairs.

So what do I do?

I go out for a walk when it's nice weather. I would love to run again but the arthritus caused by running when I was younger is too painful.

I ride my bike as there is a good network of cycle ways I would not ride on the roads. Currently, these cycle ways are very wet and covered in mud and dog mess.

Taking exercise is great but let's understand why the take up is so low here in the UK....roll on summer.

Seems that some Cll patients are more affected by greater fatigue levels than others. It also depends on other health problems and medications that can cause fatigue. Therefore, some may be able to run a 1/2 marathon or cycle 50kms per day, and others can hardly make it around the local supermarket without having to take a rest, even in the very early stages of the disease.

Also, everyone has different interests in how they want to exercise. Personally, I dislike gyms intensely even though I have tried several. However, I love to do yoga, and when healthier had an ashtanga yoga practise daily. Now I do more Hatha yoga, which is gentler and easier for me. Give me a ballet barre and I will do a series of exercises drilled into my head over years of seriously studying ballet, but please, no tread mill or stationary bicycle!

All movement is good if done properly, mindfully, and within our limitations. Work up slowly so as not to cause injury, or great fatigue for days afterwards, and do what resonates with your personality and what is fun.

Sandy Beaches

Love the photo!! Thanks ...

I know that exercise is good but have a mental block... I keep putting walking on the top of my to do list - what's stopping me ?going out in the cold dark and rain ? perhaps if I had a walking companion ? I've not even got the fit bit I got for Christmas synced to my phone yet! Arghhh and my resolution is to walk round the block DAILY ! Or else.....

CllcanadaTop Poster CURE Hero

I went from morbidly obese to fairly fit, and lost 120lbs in the process, but it took 18 months of brisk walks twice a day... and a camera.

When treatment time came... I was able to endure FR and RCHOP in the same year... 😩

I'm fairly certain, as are my doctors that I wouldn't be here today, if I had not undertaken this walking routine.

Recently, my Hgb levels have fallen into the transfusion zone, and I was house bound for the past few months... not being able to walk ...more than a few hundred yards.

Above everything else, walking is what I missed most...

But today, now on idealalisib and rituxan... I was out at 8am on a sunny -17degC morning... doing my walking route ... feels great!


Neil - all your photographs are absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for including them in your posts. Carole

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