Moving More at a glance
Moving More is one of our top-rated practices for improving cancer outcomes. As a very large systematic review analyzing hundreds of studies stated:
Exercise is beneficial before, during, and after cancer treatment, across all cancer types, and for a variety of cancer-related illnesses. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise is the best level of exercise intensity to improve physical function and mitigate cancer-related impairments. Therapeutic exercises are beneficial to manage treatment side effects, may optimize tolerance to cancer treatments, and improve functional outcomes.1Stout NL, Baima J, Swisher AK, Winters-Stone KM, Welsh J. A systematic review of exercise systematic reviews in the cancer literature (2005-2017). PM R. 2017 Sep;9(9S2):S347-S384.
Expert recommendations, based on a large body of research, all promote adding movement to every day. In addition to exercising with cancer, simply walking and putting more movement in your daily activities brings benefits. Recommendations from medical groups in brief:
- Many professional organizations recommend achieving at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercisea level that get you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly; examples include brisk walking (4 mph), mowing a lawn with a walking power mower, or tennis doubles or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercisea level that gets you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off more than six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly; examples include jogging at 6 mph, bicycling 14-16 mph, or playing basketball—building up over a few weeks if you’re not already close to this level.
- An exception is made for those with advanced illness, who may need to de-emphasize aerobic exercise and increase light resistance training such as weightlifting and isometrics.
- Limit sedentarycharacterized by much sitting and little physical activity time and take regular breaks from sitting and sedentary activities to get up and move.
- Benefits include improved physical function, better quality of life, and less fatigue.
- Benefits are seen before, during, and after cancer treatment, including during palliative care.
- The goal is to be active as much as possible, recognizing that at times you may need to adjust movement types and levels, such as during or immediately after treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Gentle movements such as qigong may be available when aerobic exercise is not.
- Following your doctor’s advice is important, but even within restrictions most people can increase activity and receive benefits.
Goals include improving your muscle mass and density, staying as active as comfortable during treatment, moving safely, and staying hydrated.
Finding ways to make Moving More enjoyable will not only improve your motivation, but may bring extra benefits such as more social time if you choose to move with another person or group.
Moving More can also contribute to better body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more, better sleep, better cardiovascular fitness, and lower markers of stress.
We emphasize that Moving More by itself will not prevent, cure, or control cancer. Like every therapy or practice included on this website, Moving More is one component of an individualized integrative plan rather than a stand-alone therapy.
Groups that can help you move more
Words of guidance
Read some words of inspiration and guidance from Michael Lerner, CancerChoices co-founder and author of Choices in Healing.