Physical activity and advanced cancer

If you are living with advanced cancer, being physically active can benefit you. It can help improve symptoms such as tiredness, poor appetite and constipation. It reduces stress and helps you sleep better.

Start slowly and gradually build up the amount you do. To begin with try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting or lying down. Just moving around the house and doing simple day to day things will help.

You may be able to manage short walks or gentle stretching exercises. You could get your family and friends to join in.

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. There are chair-based exercises that can help improve your muscle strength and flexibility. To see how to do these, visit

Some classes focus specifically on chair exercises. Ask your GP or nurse if there are any in your local area.

You may need to avoid some types of physical activity if, for example, the cancer is in your bones or you have bone thinning. Ask your doctor or palliative care team for advice before you start.

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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.