Benefits of Physical Activity for Cancer Patients

Health Care Providers

By including physical activity into the overall treatment plan, cancer patients and survivors are better able to manage disease and treatment-related side-effects. By engaging in a physical activity program, cancer patients and survivors are able to maintain or improve their muscle strength and overall functional fitness, as well as reduce feelings of fatigue.

Although contraindications exist, research indicates that physical activity is safe for most cancer patients and survivors with the appropriate precautions and activity modifications.


Programs Offer Evidence-based Exercise Programming for Cancer Survivors in Nova Scotia

Two programs are now up and running that offer cancer survivors opportunities to engage in evidence-based exercise programming. Both, under the umbrella of research funding, offer free 12 week programs under the supervision of a Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP). Due to the pandemic, programs are being offered virtually (on-line) at this time. Face-to-face programming will become an option again, post-pandemic in collaboration with community exercise professionals and settings.   
One of the priorities of the programs is to ensure accessibility of programming for rural Nova Scotians. On-line programming will likely be a mainstay even post-pandemic to facilitate this.   

Criteria for participation include patients who:

  • Have a cancer diagnosis

  • Are over the age of 18 years

  • Resident of Nova Scotia

  • Are able to safely participate in low-intensity levels of activity at a minimum (ie. Chair exercises, walking)

  • Are pretreatment; OR are receiving active treatment; OR have received cancer treatment in the past 5 years; OR have ongoing/late presenting impairments (i.e., fatigue) related to the cancer diagnosis

  • Are able to provide consent in English

  • Have access to a computer/tablet/smart device and the internet (due to the virtual nature of the program required by pandemic)

Health care providers can refer patients using this referral formOnce completed email referrals to Dr. Melanie Keats, the Project lead at or to Joy Chiekwe the Certified Exercise Physiologist at joychiekwe@gmail.caThe patient will be contacted directly by the program team to discuss the program in more detail, conduct any risk assessment and support the patient in getting set up to participate. 

Cancer survivors can also self-refer to the program. Where possible we encourage you inform cancer patients and survivors about these programs and support their referral.  

Physicians can post these posters in clinic or appointment rooms to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the benefit of physical activity during and post treatment.