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Walking and cancer
Produced on behalf of Walking for Health by Macmillan Cancer Support
When you're living with or after cancer, physical activity can help you make a positive change to your life. Walking is one of the easiest ways to become active as it doesn’t require any specialist equipment to get started, with just a good pair of walking shoes you’re ready to go.
The important thing to know is that walking is safe both during and after most types of cancer treatment and has lots of benefits including strengthening your bones and heart, reducing body fat, improving mental health, and reducing lymphoedema and fatigue, and the risk of progression or recurrence of some cancers.
During and after treatment it is recommended that people try to reduce the amount of time that they spend resting or sitting. Just moving about can help prevent blood clots, reduce muscle wasting and improve your mood. We recommend people gradually build up the amount of physical activity they do, setting achievable goals while doing an activity they enjoy.
The Chief Medical Officer recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise every week in bouts of ten minutes or more. Brisk walking which makes you slightly breathless and causes your heart to beat faster is perfect.
Cheryl, my walk leader, encouraged me to walk which greatly improved my mind-set and fitness when I was recovering from cancer.
Catherine, Walking for Health participant
Always walk at your own pace and listen to your body. Start by taking short walks with regular breaks. It's important to gradually build up the amount you do by setting realistic, achievable goals that work for you.
Over time you'll be able to increase the amount you do. Before starting, seek medical advice if you have a heart condition or pain in your chest, if you ever lose balance, if you've not sufficiently recovered from surgery, or if you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in physical activity levels.
Walking can help to keep your mind healthy as well as your body. Whether you're being treated for cancer or you're recovering, why not find a health walk near you and join today?
For more information on the benefits of physical activity during and after cancer treatment visit www.macmillan.org.uk