Published: 06 January 2017

Exercise and Cancer

By Annabelle Emery


With knowledge of current statistics, it is safe to say that most people will have some experience, either directly or indirectly, of cancer. The good news is that, with improving treatments, the number of people living with and beyond cancer is increasing. More than half of those diagnosed with cancer live for 10 years or more (Cancer Research UK, 2011).

Physical activity is an important therapy for those currently under treatment and those who have completed treatment. The benefits of staying active are specific to treatment-related side effects and outcomes, but are also important to maintaining good overall health.

Types of Exercise

Cardio, strengthening and flexibility exercises are all recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. Different types suit different people, but in general you should try to exercise in blocks of at least 10 minutes, and this should get you warm but you should be able to maintain a conversation.

Top Tips

  1. Listen to your body - Get some exercise on the days that you are feeling good, and rest on the days that you aren’t – simple! Keeping a diary of side-effects during early treatment cycles can help you plan for future cycles.
  2. Prioritising - Imagine your energy levels as a bank account. Catching up with friends, going to the doctors, chasing the kids around, making dinner – all these activities require withdrawals from your energy bank. Exercise will also dip into the energy bank. There should always be some energy left in your bank, it should never be empty. That means that you need plenty of rest time to boost you energy levels, and to decide which activities each day are most important. On quieter days, exercise will be a good use of your energy bank.
  3. Enjoyment - The benefits of exercise are physical and psychological. Pick an exercise that you enjoy, there’s a long list to choose from – walking, cycling, tennis, dancing, golf, yoga, gardening, jogging, fishing, gym training – and more!

What’s on at the Surrey Sports Park?

Research Projects

The University of Surrey is currently involved in exercise and cancer research projects in groups including prostate, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers.

Group Classes

The Surrey HPI are running group exercise classes for those who are currently under treatment or who have completed their treatment for cancer.

If you would be interested in meeting one of our specialist instructors, please call 01483 683769.

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