Be Active

Physical activity is part of a balance, along with weight and diet, that influences your health and can influence cancer risk. Regular physical activity can improve your health by:

  • Controlling your weight.
  • Keeping your bones, muscles, and joints healthy.
  • Helping to prevent high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Promoting psychological (mental, emotional) well-being and improving symptoms like stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • Improving balance, fitness, and physical functioning.
  • Reducing the risk of death from heart disease.
  • Reducing the risk of premature death.

Almost half of people affected by cancer want more information about how to stay physically fit.

Physical Activity and Cancer

Exercise can improve how well you function physically and your quality of life. If you rest too much, it can lead to loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. Do your best to be physically active both during and after your cancer treatment. Learn more.

Tips for Being Physically Active

Most people are safe to start a walking program or other light-moderate intensity exercise program on their own. However, if you’ve never exercised before or you have balance problems or muscle weakness, you should check with your doctor to come up with a safe exercise program before adding physical activity to your routine. You may need physical therapy or another medically supervised conditioning program.

  • Features of a good exercise plan include:
    • Start slowly. Don’t work too hard or for too long. Build up intensity and exercise for longer periods slowly over time.
    • Include a warm up for at least 2 to 3 minutes and a cool down.
    • In your weekly routine, include three types of exercise: 1) aerobic exercise that increases your heartrate and breathing, 2) exercise that increases your flexibility and range of motion, and 3) muscle-strengthening exercise.
  • Here are some ways to add physical activity to your daily routine:
    • Walk around your neighborhood after dinner.
    • Ride your bike.
    • Garden.
    • Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.
    • Choose a parking spot that is farther away from your destination.

Resources for Being Active

Many resources are available to help you stay physically active.

Sign up for Daily Text Message Tips: HealthyYouTXT

HealthyYouTXT is a mobile text messaging service designed for men and women who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. The 6-week program will provide 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to help you achieve your health goals and stay on track. Sign up today.

Watch Videos on Physical Activity

Watch videos to learn how to plan physical activity, safely exercise during cancer treatment, and learn about physical therapy after treatment.

Prioritizing Physical Activity: The Basics

Learn some tips on how to fit in time for movement during the day. Even if it’s just taking the stairs or walking around the block, all those little activities add up and will balance all the time you are resting.

Exercise and Treatment Video

Not only can it be safe to exercise during and after treatment, it’s recommended—with proper guidance. This video gives you information and tips on exercising during and after cancer treatment. Physical activity can help reduce stress, improve strength, improve bone health, and balance problems.

Physical Therapy After Treatment

This video gives information and tips on the ways that physical therapy can benefit cancer survivors who are struggling with post-treatment complications. It’s never too late to improve your quality of life.

Tracking Physical Activity: USDA SuperTracker

Keeping track of your daily activity level is a smart way to live healthier. Use this SuperTracker from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.

Use a Calculator

Use these simple online calculators to track the calories you burn in a workout or daily activity, and to calculate your target heart rate during exercise.

Exercise Calorie Calculator

How many calories will your activity burn? Find out by using Exercise Counts.

Target Heart Rate Calculator

Determine your target heart rate during exercise using the Target Heart Rate Calculator. Staying within the range of heart beats per minute suggested by the calculator will help you get the most out of your physical activities.

Take a Quiz: Do You Have Healthy Habits?

How healthy are your habits? Take this Nutrition and Activity Quiz to find out. Results from the quiz will help you decide which areas of your diet could use improvement, or whether you should increase your physical activity.
Find more information from the American Cancer Society at Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection? Even small changes can have a big impact on your health and help lower your risk of cancer.

Learn More About Physical Activity

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have additional resources to help you, including eat healthy and get active and physical activity and cancer.