Move Basics: Move 101

Move - Article 02

Exercise and Cancer Intro

It’s no big secret. The best way to maintain long-term health is to exercise regularly. Every day if possible.

Exercise has been shown to improve mood and quality of life, while keeping your body healthy as you age. You don’t have to push weights or take an aerobics class either. It’s as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, doing a few household chores or standing up and walking for a minute after sitting down for half an hour … It all adds up and your body will thank you later.

Cancer and exercise research have shown when you exercise regularly, you’re significantly less likely to suffer from several chronic diseases. Just 30 minutes of exercise every day reduces your risk of:

  • Heart disease and stroke by 35%
  • Type 2 diabetes by up to 50%
  • Colon cancer up to 50%

How does exercise help with cancer prevention?

Cancer puts an immense strain on your body at a physical and psychological level. Staying active before, during and after treatment is proven to have powerful benefits for people with a variety of cancers and at different stages.

The fitter you are, the more efficiently your body can work, meaning you heal quicker and are less susceptible to infections (common after surgery or if your immunity is low during chemotherapy). 

Most importantly, recent research into cancer and exercise has shown how regular exercise can enhance your mood, improve sleep, boost energy levels and reduce anxiety, stress and depression.

And it doesn’t end there, staying active after treatment can not only help prevent cancer from returning but also reduce the risk of developing other cancers and chronic diseases.

The benefits of exercise for cancer patients

There are a number of benefits regular exercise has for cancer patients including:

  • improves response to cancer treatment
  • reduces susceptibility to infections
  • reduces anxiety and depression
  • reduce fatigue
  • improves sleep
  • prevents or improves lymphoedema (a type of swelling)
  • improves memory

How does Onko help?

We will set you up with your own personal health coach who specialise in exercise and cancer. Our coaches are trained to empower you with the knowledge and tools you need to manage your health. Together, we’ll set your health goals and make informed treatment choices with confidence.

We use a combination of behavioural science, smartphone technology and human interaction to help you get the best treatment outcomes. Exercise recommendations are always tailored to your abilities. People who follow our programmes recover faster after surgery and find they can tolerate their cancer treatments better.

How much movement should I do?

The NHS recommends that adults, regardless of age, should:

  • Aim to be physically active every day, even if it’s just light activity
  • Do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility on at least 2 days a week
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity if you are already active, or a combination of both
  • Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity If you’ve not used to doing exercise, remember that even a little physical activity is better than doing none. Start slowly, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

Onko success stories

Davinder found an allotment nearby and walks there every day. His colon cancer is in remission. “Exercise helped me to stay positive. Every day I’d go down to the allotment and I came back feeling much more relaxed and my sleep was much deeper.”

The recap

Movement is essential for maintaining good health. The benefits are numerous – and not just physical. Exercise is a fast track to mental wellbeing too.

Exercise is shown to reduce the risk of many cancers. If you have cancer, staying active has powerful benefits during your treatment and recovery.

You don’t have to push weights or take an aerobics class. It can be as simple as walking up the escalator or hanging out the laundry.

We recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, as well as some strength, balance and flexibility exercises.