Lung cancer can sometimes cause shortness of breath, even while you are at rest. If you are experiencing breathing difficulties, you might think that exercise is out of the question. But, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Despite your limited lung capacity, it’s likely that you can – and should – incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine. Exercise can potentially enhance your strength, energy, endurance and quality of life – all of which are important factors in your recovery and general well-being.
Staying active with lung cancer
Before you start any new exercise program, you should consult with your lung cancer treatment team for individualized advice and guidance. In the meantime, the multispecialty team in the Thoracic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center can provide some general tips on how to safely exercise with lung cancer:
- Start slowly and progress gradually. Even if you were previously very active, your body may not be able to handle the same level of physical activity it once could. You might try walking, swimming or cycling for 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a day, and then increase the length of your sessions from there if you feel up to it.
- If your physician approves, add some light strength training to your regimen, which can help combat muscle atrophy, bone density loss and weight gain during lung cancer treatment.
- Be sure to warm up and cool down properly after each exercise session, which will help you avoid injuries.
- Practice good posture, which can make it easier for you to breathe deeply. In turn, deep breathing can improve your lung capacity and make it easier for you to exercise.
If you’d like to consult with a lung cancer specialist at Moffitt, you don’t need a physician’s referral to do so. After evaluating your diagnosis, treatment plan and fitness level, we can recommend an exercise plan that meets your unique needs and goals.