Physical Activity

Physical activity introduction video

The current guidance of physical activity levels for all adults is 150 minutes a week. It is advised this is achieved by doing 30 minutes of activity a day for 5 days a week. The activity is to be of moderate pace such as walking. The guidance now includes also doing balance and strengthening activity at least twice a week. This level of activity is helpful for people even during cancer treatment. However everyone is different and exercise needs to be tailored to you, taking into account your overall fitness, diagnosis, and other factors that could affect safety.

  • Being active before, during and after treatment for cancer is safe and is beneficial by helping with the following:
  • Reducing fatigue

  • Managing side effects of treatment

  • Healthy heart function

  • Reducing anxiety and depression

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Strengthening muscles & improving bone health

  • Improving flexibility & balance

  • Increasing confidence and self esteem

  • Reducing the risk of cancer reoccurrence

  • Improving overall quality of life 

Please view our video below which explains the benefits of physical activity.

Physical activity doesn’t always mean ‘exercise’

The type of activity or ‘exercise’ you do may depend on what stage you are at with cancer treatment. It may also depend on what type of activity you enjoy doing. Support is available to adapt and modify activity before, during and after cancer treatment and will be personalised and meaningful to you. We are seeing the benefits of physical activity in cancer patients in their ability to withstand treatment and its side effects, recover easier after treatment and surgery.

These are some of the everyday activities that can be done as part of an active lifestyle:

  • Housework (vacuuming)
  • Gardening
  • Walking to the shops
  • Walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift
  • Carrying shopping bags

Energetic activities such as Dancing, Running, Cycling and Digging the garden.

Staying active at home is easily achieved; download our booklet here with easy to understand guidance. 

Benefits of exercise for those living with and beyond cancer

The areas of fitness that should be targeted when being active and exercising are: Aerobic, Balance, Flexibility and Strength. Examples below are some activities you can do to make a difference and essentially affect how your body copes with the forthcoming cancer treatment.

Use the slider to find out more information on each one.

The following Macmillan video introduces you to physical activity and gentle exercise you can do at home. There is information about some of the things you may need to consider before you start to do more activity. The videos demonstrate 3 different levels; lighter / easier, intermediate and advanced so you can decide the level you work to. This link takes you to the exercise videos; warm up, cardio, strength & endurance, cool down.

Additional information

Links below with further information about these topics will open in a new window and PDF format. If you would like any more information please contact your Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Physical activity and cancer

Becoming more active

Being active at home

Phyiscal activity during chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Macmillan Move More Exercise videos

Macmillan Safefit

Move more a guide to becoming more active

The undefeatable link below can provide support to become more physically active when you’re managing a long term health condition, being active is about finding what works for you.

The following link is to a charity and virtual support to help being active with cancer


An activity diary or using your smart phone to track steps or an activity tracker is a good way to monitor what you are doing. Please click here to download an activity chart if you do not have an activity tracker.

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Please note, if your question needs an urgent response you should contact your clinical team directly.


Question for First Steps Team

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