How Do I Start Exercising After Cancer?

Do you take the time to check in with your body and identify where any pain or discomfort is coming from? In part 2 of a four-part series, Lockey shares some tips and exercise recommendations.

Unfortunately, because of all the lingering treatment side effects, post-treatment cancer survivors are not sure where or how to begin an exercise program. I always recommend that my clients to begin at the beginning. Cancer treatment affected us at a cellular level so it would stand to reason our entire body was affected by the treatment. The best place to rebuild a machine to make it strong and stable is at the foundation. In the case of the human body, the foundation is posture.

When starting a post-treatment exercise program, consider taking just a few minutes at the beginning to incorporate postural corrective exercises otherwise known as rehabilitative exercise. The objective of rehabilitative exercise is to correct posture, increase range of motion and flexibility.

By taking just a few moments to focus in on your posture, you will increase your range of motion, alleviate the tightness you may be feeling, allowing you to progress more quickly. Correcting your posture consists of opening your chest, pulling your shoulders back and down and creating a proper pelvic tilt for your body.

Practice these two exercises at the beginning of your exercise program to create the proper body alignment for you. Muscles have memory, so the more you do the exercises, the sooner you will be standing tall and proud.
My goal for my clients is to encourage them to start a fitness program that includes rehabilitative exercise and appropriate exercises designed to help them progress to meet their fitness goals. Before starting any program, I make sure my clients are aware of the following tips that I would like to share with you.

Before starting an exercise program, take some precautions:

  • First and most important, make sure your doctor approves starting an exercise program.
  • Start slow. Most of the time, a cancer diagnosis slows us down. When treatment ends we want to jump right back in to life. Take it easy, remember to build in rest periods.
  • Start at the beginning. Build/correct your foundation first.
  • Don't discount flexibility and range of motion exercises. If you can't stand up straight or bend over without feeling like you are going to tear something, you might not want to pick up any dumb bells yet.
  • Once you have regained some range of motion, move on to body weight exercises. If you can't lift your own body, I don't recommend adding external resistance.
  • Once you have your foundation set (correct posture and sufficient range of motion), progress with bands for external resistance, then add the dumbbells and kettle bells and the like.
  • If you choose to work with a fitness professional, don't be afraid to ask questions, make sure they have experience working with health concerns/conditions similar to your own. Or you can feel free to contact me on my IHadCancer page, my username is Lockey or email me at
  • If you want to take a class, but you aren't sure if you are ready for it. Talk with the instructor before class. I promise you, they will appreciate it and you will feel more at ease, I promise.

If you follow these guidelines and you set 3 30 or 60 minute sessions per week, you will progress before you know it. I've seen clients who had major difficulty moving and stretching progress from barely able to move to moving with ease and full range of motion in just a few short weeks. If you only have a half hour a week, start there, you will still see results sooner than if you didn't exercise at all.

As an added bonus, people who stand with proper posture are reported to look 5lbs lighter, an inch taller and project confidence. You're welcome.

Every other Friday, I'll share tips on creating an exercise program from warm up to cool down with all the components mentioned above. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with your fitness questions. Be sure to check back on June 21!