exercise during liver cancer treatment

Although dealing with cancer symptoms is extremely difficult, maintaining an exercise routine during treatment is extremely important and beneficial for mental health, and improving quality of life. Even if you were not physically active before your cancer diagnosis, an exercise program that meets your unique needs can be performed safely without any health concerns.

Benefits of Exercise

In addition to improving mental health and quality of life, a well-designed exercise plan while undergoing therapy as well as after the treatment is completed may:

  • Lower the chance of physical side effects, such as fatigue, neuropathy, lymphedema, osteoporosis, and nausea
  • Reduce the risk of depression and anxiety
  • Preserve mobility and independence
  • Improve balance to reduce falls and other injuries
  • Prevent muscle loss and build strength
  • Prevent weight gain and obesity
  • Improve sleep
  • Make the treatments more effective
  • Improve survival rates and reduce the risk of other cancers
  • Prevent other chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes

Exercise Recommendations for Liver Cancer Patients

Engaging in a variety of exercises during and after treatment for cancer including liver cancer will help patients remain healthy. While it may be necessary to adjust some of these exercises to meet unique needs, a complete program should generally include the following:

Breathing exercises. Some patients with liver cancer may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, which can prevent them from being physically active. By moving air in and out of the lungs, breathing exercises can improve endurance and reduce stress and anxiety.

Stretching. When recovering from some cancer treatments, stretching can be especially beneficial. For example, while radiation therapy can restrict the range of motion and cause muscle stiffness, stretching on a daily basis might help regain flexibility and improve posture. In addition, stretching can help the body repair itself by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles.

Balance exercises. Loss of balance can be a potential side effect of liver cancer and its treatment. Balance exercises can help prevent fall injuries while allowing patients to regain the function and mobility that is needed to safely return to daily activities and routine. A few examples of balance exercises might include standing marches, sit-to-stands, and single-leg stands.

Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups and increases heart rate, which may delay the onset of side effects and reduce their severity, maintain mood, and improve energy levels. In addition, this type of exercise can strengthen the heart and lungs and may help patients feel less tired during treatment. Some examples of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, water aerobics, dancing, tennis, cycling, and swimming.

The goal is to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aerobic activity guidelines as closely as possible during and after treatment. These guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.

Strength training. Muscle loss often occurs when a patient is less active during liver cancer treatment and recovery. However, strength training, or resistance training, can help maintain and build muscle strength, improve balance, reduce fatigue, and facilitate daily activities. Strength training can also help fight osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones that cancer treatments can cause.

The CDC recommends 2 days of full-body strength training each week. A strength training program can include using hand weights, exercise machines, resistance bands, and your own body weight.

Leading-Edge Liver Cancer Treatments in New York

If you were diagnosed with primary or secondary liver cancer, it is important to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. At USA Oncology Centers, we are committed to providing the most effective liver cancer treatments. We are truly dedicated to patient care by making sure all therapeutic options are discussed openly with our patients and by engaging them in partnering with us during this journey.

Our minimally-invasive liver cancer treatments in New York include the following:

At USA Oncology Centers, our patients always come first. To learn more about our treatment options, call us at 855.870.4747 or schedule an appointment with an interventional oncologist today.

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We believe that the patient-doctor relationship is at the core of medicine. We’re here to help you through your cancer journey - emotionally, physically and financially.

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