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How to start strength training after cancer

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of exercise that uses resistance exercises to strengthen and build muscle mass. It is used to increase endurance, body strength, and bone density. These exercises might include weight-lifting, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats and leg raises. Strength training is important for overall health and wellness, as it helps to improve balance, coordination, and flexibility.

Why should I strength train?

Strength training after cancer can have a multitude of benefits, providing an opportunity to rebuild strength and muscle mass, as well as increase flexibility and balance that may have been lost during cancer treatment and the recovery period. Strength training has the potential to improve physical functioning, reduce fatigue, and increase overall energy levels.

Is there anything I need to do before I begin?

It is important to speak to your oncology team before you start any form of exercise, including strength training. Once you receive the green light, start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you become more comfortable. A cancer specific fitness trainer can provide beneficial guidance and advice on how to incorporate strength training into your existing routine, and the right type of exercises that are suitable for your needs. Additionally, ensure you take regular rest days to give your body enough time to rest and recover.

How can I start?

If you’ve never done strength training before, the best way to start is with the guidance of a fitness professional who specialises in Cancer & Exercise. Here is a free example of some of the basic strength training principles, based on movements we do every day, developed by our specialist, Sarah Newman.

How do I progress?

As you start to feel stronger, you can begin to increase the intensity of your workouts. This can be done by gradually increasing weight, or the number of times you do an exercise.

Weight progression after cancer needs to be gradual, especially if you’ve had lymph nodes removed or radiated from a certain area. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get back to where you were before cancer, or stronger even!

What should I be aware of when strength training after cancer?

Be sure to have rest days in between workouts. Don’t exercise through pain; report this to a physiotherapist or your oncology team. Gentle progression in any affected areas is important. The most important thing to do is enjoy it!

If you have any questions about strength training after cancer then please contact Sarah

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