Your doctor might encourage you to start some physical activity before surgery. This can help improve your general fitness level and help with your recovery.
It is important to start moving around as soon as possible after surgery. This reduces the risk of complications such as blood clots. But depending on the operation, there may be some activities you should avoid. For example, if you have a stoma, you may be given advice on which activities to avoid at first. Your surgeon, physiotherapist or nurse will tell you which activities you should avoid and for how long.
If you had surgery to your pelvis, or near your hips, you may be shown exercises to help strengthen your stomach (core) and pelvic floor muscles. Try to do these for as long as you were advised to. If you have pain, discomfort or swelling that stops you doing them, tell the physiotherapist or nurse.
Chemotherapy can lower the number of blood cells made in the bone marrow. We need different types of blood cell to do different jobs. So when the number of blood cells is reduced, you may be at an increased risk of some problems.
Risk of infection
White blood cells help you fight infection. If your number of white blood cells is low, you are at an increased risk of getting an infection. While your number of white blood cells is reduced, your cancer doctor might advise you to avoid busy public places where you are more likely to get an infection. This might include swimming pools or gyms.
Bleeding and bruising
Platelets are cells that help the blood to clot. If your number of platelets is low, you are more at risk of bruising or bleeding. Your doctor may advise you to exercise gently and avoid high-impact activities. This is usually until the number of platelets is back to a safe level.
If your number of red blood cells is very low, you will feel very tired and sometimes breathless. This is called anaemia. If this happens, you may not feel like exercising or only be able to manage day-to-day activities. It is important to rest when you need to until the anaemia is reduced.
Central and PICC lines
If you have a central line or PICC line, you should avoid swimming. This is because of the risk of infection. You should also avoid vigorous upper body exercises, which could displace your line.
If you have a skin reaction or redness due to radiotherapy, wear loose clothing when exercising to prevent rubbing against any areas of sensitive skin.
You should avoid swimming, as the chemicals in the water can irritate your skin. After treatment ends and any redness or skin reaction has gone, it’s fine to swim again. Ask your radiotherapy team for advice about swimming during and after treatment.