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Persons with Cancer

In developed countries, approximately one in three people will be directly affected by cancer before the age of 75 years. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer are the most common types.

Early detection and treatment for cancer means that more people have a better chance of being cured or living longer with their disease.

Physical Activity and Cancer

Cancer and its treatment often result in physical, emotional and social problems that impact quality of life. Being physically active and exercising regularly can benefit a person's health, day-to-day function, quality of life, and potentially survival (cancer-free years). However, most people with cancer do not meet physical activity recommendations.

It is recommended that all people with cancer, unless advised otherwise, should avoid being physically inactive. People with cancer should aim for at least:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) on 3 days per week.
  • 20 to 30 minutes of muscle strengthening exercises (e.g., lifting weights) on at least 2 days per week.

Useful Resources

Canadian Cancer Society

Type 'physical activity' in the search box to find a variety of physical activity resources.

Cancer and Exercise: Living Longer, Living Better (Physiotherapy Alberta, Canada)
A blog post about cancer and exercise.

Exercise for People with Cancer (Cancer Care Ontario, Canada)
An exercise guide and tracking sheet for people with cancer.

Living well with Lymphoma: How to use exercise help? Research and Practical tips (Lymphoma Canada, Canada)
A presentation from a Living well with lymphoma event for clients and health care providers that covers side effects as well as the benefits of exercise and some practical tips. While this presentation was for lymphoma, much of the information is general and can be applied to many cancer populations. This presentation is the fourth one on the list.

Exercises for People Living with Cancer (Cancer Council Western Australia, Australia)
A booklet that you can download to help you understand the importance of exercise. It includes examples of exercises.

Physical Activity Guides (Macmillan Cancer Support, United Kingdom)
A variety of physical activity resources. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find a group of resources to help people living with cancer to 'move more'.

Exercise (, USA)
This webpage includes resources on physical activity topics including: Why exercise, Exercise safely, Finding an exercise trainer, Types of exercise, Exercise during and after treatment.

Moving Through Cancer (Exercise is Medicine, USA)
An initiative with the mission to assure that all people living with and beyond cancer are assessed, advised, referred to, and engaged in appropriate exercise and rehabilitation programming as a standard of care. The webpage includes handouts for persons living with cancer in the clinical resources section.

Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer (American Cancer Society, USA)
General information on physical activity including goals and things to think about when planning an exercise program.

Exercise and Cancer (Oncolink, USA)
Information about the benefits of exercise during and after cancer treatment, and therapist created exercise programs to get you started.

International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission
A listing of all Breast Cancer Dragon Boat teams with links to individual team pages.

Last updated: November 2021