Tuesday 7th April 2020

Staying active at home

Having to completely isolate at home can be extremely difficult, especially if living alone. If you are currently in the middle of treatment, a cancer survivor, or living with cancer, it can also be very scary in the current climate, with little or no certainty about the impact the current environment may have on you and the care you receive. 

The ability to have some structure and control can be hugely empowering and also help improve your mood, reduce anxiety, fatigue and improve your general movements and day-to-day experience.

Activities such as exercise also have a profoundly positive impact on side-effects, containment of disease, and survival for some cancer patients. 

Exercise is safe for the majority of patients and is encouraged by healthcare professionals. If you are unsure contact your cancer nurse to find out what is safe for you. 

Gentle exercises, stretching and walking around the house (if possible for you) are good ways to keep active. As the isolation period is for 12-weeks , which may be longer or shorter depending on how events unfold, it is important to go at your own pace and  not to over exert yourself, think about small ways you can integrate exercise and being active into your routine on a regular basis. 

If exercise isn’t for you, simple things you can do whilst engaging in  other activities can help. For example whilst watching TV consider walking on the spot, or flexing your feet up and down, and stretching your arms up, down and in circular motions. Or, every time you’re on the phone you walk around the house. Simple things like this.

For people with disease affecting their bones, it is important to avoid weights and strains on the affected bones as you are at a greater risk of fractures. 

For people who have recently had surgery, exercise may not be allowed for a fixed period or time, or longer if you still have stitches or staples, or have had abdominal  or spinal surgery. Please speak to the team caring for you, and ask what you can do whilst isolating at home. 

Let your body guide you

There will always be good days and bad days. Days where energy levels are a bit better, and  those days where it is difficult to get out of bed. Let your body guide you. 

The worst thing to do is to put an unrealistic expectation  on yourself, or pressure to comply with a certain routine or amount of exercise each day.  

Instead, plan each day as it comes and allocate what you will do based on the energy you have and start gradually, even on your good days (this may be for 10-15 minutes). 

Try and find exercises you enjoy, and therefore are happy to do regularly – like dancing, gardening or vacuuming (if this is what you enjoy!) . There are many options also if mobility is an issue, so do what works for you. 

You  can also consider buddying up with friends or family. Using video call to exercise together even if you live separately. 

Resources for exercise to try at home



This article was accurate as of the 7th April 2020.