Taking Care of Your Health

Tips for Cancer Patients: How to Start Daily Walking Program

June 02, 2020

Walking Program

Beginning a daily walking program before cancer surgery is highly recommended and may improve your recovery after surgery. To ensure your safety and reduce the risk of injury, make it a habit to do the following before walking or doing any type of aerobic exercise:

  • Start slow and gently increase your walking distance and pace.
  • Wear a good pair of supportive shoes.
  • Choose a safe surface and keep an eye out for uneven areas.
  • If walking outdoors in warm weather, walk in the early morning or evening and drink plenty of
  • If walking outdoors in cold weather, dress in layers so you can remove outer layers if you get too Keep your head covered at all times. If clothes become wet, change them as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you warm-up and cool-down with your

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that cancer survivors get 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise OR 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as walking. In order to determine what moderate and vigorous intensity is, you can use the scale below. 

Rating Exertion
6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximum exertion

For moderate intensity aerobic exercise, your rating should be 12-13. 

For vigorous intensity aerobic exercise, your rating should be 14-17. 

Note: It is important to start slow and build up to the recommended 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity when participating in any type of aerobic exercise program. This will set you up for success.

Produced by the Patient Education Department. Reviewed by Patient & Family Advisors.