Healthy eating and staying active
Healthy eating and exercise play an important role during and after cancer treatment.
Regular and sustained exercise:
- Will help you cope better during treatment
- Is an important factor in maintaining your health and wellbeing after treatment.
A balanced diet is important to ensure you:
- Have access to nutritious food and liquids that are appetising and easy to eat during your treatment
- Maintain your strength and energy
- Take steps towards preventing malnutrition or unwanted weight gain.
If you need specialist advice, you can talk to staff at your hospital or GP for a referral to a:
- Dietitian for advice on nutrition
- Physiotherapist for advice on physical conditioning and exercise.
Weight gain can occur for some women during cancer treatment, as an effect of some drugs associated with chemotherapy and hormone therapy treatments.
Weight gain can also be a contributing factor for women dealing with poor body image and loss of confidence as a result of their cancer experience.
A key factor to consider when thinking about how to manage your weight is to increase your physical activity to develop fitness and well-being, rather than focusing on losing weight. There are resources in this navigator to assist in this process.
Managing weight and reducing your alcohol intake are also regarded as important factors in preventing the development of cancers and other serious illnesses.
Muscle building through exercise
Cancer treatment can lead to muscle wasting and deconditioning through decreased activity levels. Exercise during and after treatment will help you gently rebuild strength and flexibility, and improve your energy levels.
There is a strong body of research that shows how building muscle fitness will:
- Increase physical and psychological wellbeing
- Improve immune functioning, including the ability to recover better from treatment and surgery
- Improve cognitive functioning
- Help you to build resistance against illness and disease.
Developing an exercise routine
Exercise is available in many forms and it is important to find the right type for you. There are resources available in the community to help you develop a regular exercise routine, and some of these are featured in this navigator.
Your choice of exercise will depend on your individual situation, including:
- Your personal needs and interests
- Your body type and general health needs
- Impact of cancer surgery, including breast reconstruction
- Side effects of treatment, including:
- Peripheral Neuropathy (such as numbness, tingling or pain in the hands or feet)
Remember to always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program to ensure it is the best fit with your health needs.
Relaxation practices are encouraged in cancer management as a tool for promoting physical and mental health and well-being.
Practices that facilitate a state of relaxation include:
- Systems such as yoga, Qi Gong and Tai Chi
- Mindfulness practices
- Other meditation practices
- Progressive relaxation practices.
As an important tool for living with cancer, relaxation practices can help you:
- Manage stress and anxiety
- Improve quality of sleep
- Assist in coping with pain or discomfort
- Assist in recovery from illness and surgery.
Combining a balanced diet with a regular exercise routine and relaxation techniques can help you to manage your physical and mental health needs during and after cancer treatment.