Who can help with physical activity?
It’s important to get advice before you start doing physical activity. The following people and organisations can all help you.
You may find it helpful to get advice about exercise from a physiotherapist. Your GP or cancer specialist may be able to arrange a referral for you if there are particular problems you need advice about. Try making a list of any physical problems you have.
A physiotherapist can help you:
build your physical fitness
improve your energy, strength, joint range, coordination and balance
manage the side effects or after-effects of treatment
enjoy and increase your physical activities
You can ask questions, such as:
I’ve never exercised before – how should I start?
I was very active before my diagnosis – will I be able to get back to the same level?
How can I improve my shortness of breath and feel less tired?
How can I improve my balance?
Can I improve the strength of my hands, arms or legs?
How can I manage fatigue and balance work and home life?
Which exercises can help me get up the stairs?
If you have more specific needs, a rehabilitation programme can be arranged for you.
You may want to talk to your cancer specialist, specialist nurse or GP before you start. But most people should be able to start an exercise programme or scheme.
Some GPs, cancer treatment centres or support groups have exercise referral schemes to help people become healthier and more active after a condition like cancer. There may be a scheme that’s part of ongoing research at your cancer treatment centre. Ask your cancer specialist, GP or nurse for more information and advice.
Exercise referral schemes
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More people manage to keep motivated to be active by exercising with other people. Being part of a group can be fun. If you feel it may be hard to stay active, an exercise referral scheme may help you. Ask your GP if there’s one in your area. Not all areas have a scheme, or it may be restricted to certain medical conditions.
Schemes are run by specially trained exercise professionals – it’s fine to ask to ask about their qualifications. They may be held at healthy living centres, community centres or leisure centres. When making a referral, your doctor will share some information about your health with the exercise professional. This will be kept confidential.
Your trainer will explain the benefits and risks of increasing your physical activity, and you’ll be asked to give your consent. This means you agree to the exercise plan and understand the benefits and risks.
Your trainer will advise you whether it’s best for you to be physically active in a group or on your own. They’ll match the types of physical activity to your individual needs.
Some areas encourage schemes in care homes, hospices and day centres to include activities like walking, dancing, Pilates, aerobics, Tai Chi or yoga. Ask at the hospital, your GP surgery, local community or leisure centre to find out what’s available in your area.
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An occupational therapist can help you manage your day-to-day activities. Your GP or cancer specialist can arrange a referral for you. They can teach you how to manage tiredness and can suggest changes to your home to make it safer and help you be more independent. Doing simple things for yourself is a way of increasing your physical activity. And if things are easier at home, you’ll have more time to do things like walking or gardening.