Physical activity and advanced cancer

If you have advanced cancer, being physically active has many benefits. It can help reduce symptoms such as tiredness and poor appetite. Being more active can also help with your walking, balance and confidence.

If you are struggling to do the same amount of physical activity you’re used to, you may want to reduce how much you are doing. Or if you currently don’t do any physical activity, start to slowly and gradually increase the amount you do. To begin with, try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting or lying down during the daytime. Just moving around the house and doing easy day-to-day things will help.

You may be able to do short walks or gentle stretching exercises. You could ask your family or friends to join you.

Resistance exercises can help strengthen your muscles and bones. This helps with getting in and out of chairs or baths, going up and down stairs, and going shopping. It also helps reduce the risk of accidentally falling.

You may need to avoid some types of physical activity, for example if the cancer is in your bones or you have bone thinning. Ask your doctor or palliative care team for advice before you start. Gentle, low-impact activities include walking, swimming and cycling.

Back to Keeping active

Who can help you get active

Talk to your physiotherapist or your doctor before you start doing physical activity. They’ll point you to appropriate exercise programmes.

Tips to get you started

You may find keeping active after a cancer diagnosis challenging. There are some tips that can get you started.

Activities near you

Several organisations and websites can help you find out what activities are available near you.