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Exercise tips to improve fitness and readiness for work

Exercise is important for both physical and mental health. Health care providers can influence patients’ motivations to engage in physical exercise by providing encouragement, evidence based information, and referral to resources. In recent years, many cancer centres and community cancer programs have developed exercise programs specifically for people with cancer as the evidence has become stronger about the benefits of exercise at any point in the cancer continuum.

Cancer Care Ontario1 and the American College of Sports Medicine2 recommend that cancer survivors:

  • avoid inactivity
  • strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, spread over three to five days a week
  • do resistance training of the major muscle groups two to three days a week

Health care providers have a role in helping patients use exercise and being physically active as a way to improve stamina, build strength, reduce fatigue, and manage psychological stress as they prepare to return to work.

See Dr. Daniel Santa Mina’s article in the Survivors section on exercise tips to improve fitness for work

See also Managing Fatigue.

It is suggested that guidance from an exercise professional, like a registered kinesiologist or certified exercise physiologist can be helpful.

Planning an exercise program

Use the Godin-Shephard Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (Godin and Shephard, 1985) to help you plan your exercise.

More resources on exercise for cancer survivors
Exercise for Health: An Exercise Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors (PDF) by Dr. Jeff Vallance and Dr. Kerry Courneya

For a review on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors, see Physical Activity & Exercise Benefits Cancer Patients and Survivors (PDF; Cancer Care Nova Scotia, 2015)

Nourishonline.ca is an online magazine, developed for Canadians by registered oncology dietitians to learn about eating well during and after treatment for cancer.