Exercise and Cancer Treatment

Physical activity can help people with cancer feel better when going through treatment
Group exercise class

Exercise is important for everyone and especially for people with cancer.

Exercise has been shown to help people with cancer feel better when going through treatment, says certified cancer exercise trainer Judy Siek. It may also decrease a person’s risk of cancer recurrence.

Siek, a certified cancer exercise trainer, discussed the importance of exercise before, during and after a cancer diagnosis and treatment in a recent presentation titled “Introduction to Cancer Exercise.”

According to Siek, benefits of regular exercise include

  • Empowerment
  • Prevention of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension
  • Decreased risk of certain types of cancer
  • Increased capacity for daily activities

“Physical activity can reduce fatigue, increase endurance, boost energy levels and improve mood,” she says. 

At Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center, she teaches several exercise classes for people affected by cancer, including classes for those who are newly diagnosed or in active treatment and classes for those who have completed treatment. Her goal is to help participants build or rebuild strength and stamina, mobility and endurance. She also teaches a gentle Pilates class to help develop strength, flexibility and control and a lymphedema-focused movement class that addresses cancer-related lymphedema through gentle movement and stretches. 

For those just starting an exercise regimen, Siek recommends small steps.

“Movement can be broken up into increments of 10 minutes three times a day,” she suggests.

Her presentation was one in a series of lunch-and-learn presentations to bring awareness to integrative oncology interventions. Waterford Place provides these services to RUSH patients. The series is hosted in collaboration with Angela Lorbeck, manager of integrative medicine at RUSH University Medical Center.

Related Stories