Exercise is very important during cancer treatment, as muscles need to be working as well as possible. Exercise helps prevent problems that are caused by long-term bedrest, such as stiff joints, weak muscles, breathing problems, constipation, skin sores, poor appetite, and mental changes. It also helps reduce stress and relieve fatigue. Talk with a doctor about realistic exercises, and then set goals for increasing physical activity level.
What the patient can do
- Do as much daily self-care as possible.
- Take a walk every day.
- Do special range of motion exercises as instructed by your nurse, doctor, or physical therapist. Active range of motion is when you move a joint without any help from others; passive range of motion is when someone else moves it for you. You can do these without getting out of bed, if necessary. Avoid moving any joint that is painful.
What caregivers can do
- Go with the patient on walks or other exercise outings.
- Encourage patient to do as much as possible for himself or herself.
- Talk with the doctor or nurse about range of motion exercises if the patient has trouble getting out of bed. You may remind the patient to do active range of motion exercises several times a day, if he or she is able. If not, you may learn to help the patient with passive range of motion.
Call the doctor if the patient:
- Gets weaker, starts losing his or her balance, or starts falling.
- Has pain that gets worse.
- Has headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, new numbness, or tingling in arms or legs.