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It’s important to stay active while recovering well. Recommendations for physical activity can depend on your age, physical ability and health status. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) recommends that exercise should be done under the supervision of an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience working with cancer patients, as this can counteract the adverse effects of treatments and improve recovery.1

While it’s tempting to see exercise as something you’ll do when you leave hospital or finish treatment, keeping active as much as possible during treatment – whether in or out of bed, at home or in hospital – will help keep you strong and healthy. Regardless of your age, physical ability or health condition, there is generally something you can do to improve your movement.2

It’s recommended that you speak to a qualified healthcare professional before embarking on a physical exercise program, so they can determine what activities you are capable of doing safely, plus how frequently to do them. They may suggest a variety of activities you can undertake during treatment and fine tune your exercise program as you recover well, with the aim of building your strength slowly and steadily over a realistic time period.

Be aware that some symptoms when you are exercising are in fact warning signs. If you experience any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop the activity immediately and call 000 for urgent medical assistance: 3

  • severe shortness of breath
  • pain or pressure in your chest or pain down your arms
  • dizziness or fainting
  • irregular or unusually rapid heartbeat
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • extreme weakness or extreme fatigue


  1. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: Australian Government; 2015. Retrieved from:  https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5) (July 2020)
  2. How exercise is changing lives. Health Direct; 17th May 2018. Retrieved from:  https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/3-ways-exercise-changes-lives (July 2020)
  3. Staying active in hospital. Better Health Channel: State Government of Victoria; July 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/staying-active-in-hospital (July 2020)
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