At The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, we want to help you to feel your very best during your treatment and afterwards. Leading a more active lifestyle can help with many parts of managing treatment. It can also keep you fit and healthy for the future too.

The following information aims to guide and support you with being more physically active or maintaining an active lifestyle. 

Why exercise?

We know that regular movement and being active is good for everyone’s health. Research shows that exercise can help with the side-effects of treatment such as breathlessness, fatigue and pain. Exercise can also improve your overall sense of wellbeing and increase confidence. 

Start with something that you find easy and enjoy doing and do as much activity as your body will allow. This might vary from day to day, depending on how you are feeling. Too much exercise can make you tired but so can too little - it’s important to find your own level that is right for you.

Read the Macmillan Cancer Support information on Physical Activity and Cancer.

Physical activity and exercise:

  • Helps to maintain and can improve your physical ability during and after your treatment 
  • Improves balance, reducing risk of falls and fractures 
  • Prevents muscle wasting caused by inactivity 
  • Reduces risk of heart disease 
  • Prevents osteoporosis (weakening of bones) 
  • Improves blood flow to legs and reduces risk of blood clots 
  • Improves independence to do the normal activities of daily living 
  • Improves self-esteem 
  • Reduces anxiety and depression 
  • Decreases feelings of sickness
  • Increases ability to maintain social contact and meet new people
  • Reduces symptoms of fatigue (tiredness)
  • Improves ability to control weight 
  • Improves your quality of life
  • Might help get you home from hospital sooner if you are admitted

What type of exercises can I do?

Everyone’s experience of cancer is different, both during and after treatment. Listen to your body to sense which activities feel right for you.  

Firstly, please speak to your clinical team about whether you are safe to exercise, especially if this is new to you. 

If you have been given specific guidance from a medical professional about exercise or your mobility and you feel you need further advice, ask your clinical team and/or ask for a physiotherapy referral.  

Find out about how you can start to be more active - read our guide to exercising and keeping active when you have cancer (produced in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University). 

You might also have enjoyed a particular type of exercise before your diagnosis, such as running, golf, walking or going to the gym. If so, have a chat with your medical team about whether it’s still okay to do this and whether you should adapt what you do. 

Bed-based exercises


Strength exercises


Chair-based exercises 1


Chair-based exercises 2


Research has shown the importance of engaging in physical activity before, during and after cancer treatment so you can start as soon as you feel ready to! There are many benefits to being active. 

Depending on your type of cancer, treatment might involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant. Many people experience muscle weakness, stiffness and fatigue because of their cancer or from the treatment - this might affect how you can exercise. You might need to adapt what you do but there are always ways that you can still be active.

Fatigue is when you have less energy to do the things you would normally do or want to do. It is often described as weakness or exhaustion but another description could be ‘I just don’t feel like myself’ or ‘I haven’t got any get up and go’. 

Fatigue can be unpredictable, appear suddenly and be overwhelming. Depending on how fatigue affects you, light exercise and activity balanced with rest can help manage this. 

How could fatigue affect me? 

  • Feeling as if you have no energy
  • Sleeping more but also disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia
  • Feeling tired even after sleeping
  • Being short of breath after only light activity, like cooking a meal or taking a shower 
  • Pain in the legs and difficulty climbing stairs or walking short distances are also signs of fatigue
  • Feeling tired or breathless after walking short distances
  • Altering the way you feel or think
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy 
  • It can make you impatient 

How can I manage my fatigue?

Everyone is different and will manage fatigue in their own way. Here are a few useful ways to help:

  • Balance rest and activities
  • Plan important activities for when you have the most energy
  • Try to do things you have to do throughout the day rather than all at once
  • Get enough rest and sleep, perhaps with short naps
  • Do light activity and exercise as you feel able 
  • Try not to sit or stand in the same position for too long and keep frequently used items in easy reach to avoid repeated bending and twisting movements. 
  • Allow for bad days. Be kind to yourself, instead of ‘I must... ’ and ‘I ought...’, try ‘I wish to...’ and ‘I choose to...
  • Ask for help and advice at any time during your admission

Read the Macmillan Cancer Support information on Coping with Fatigue (Tiredness) for more advice and ideas.

Ask your medical team for advice if you are unsure if you should be exercising - especially if you have any of the following conditions:

  • A heart condition or an irregular pulse
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness or blurred vision  
  • Recent or new pain

You can do the exercise videos on this page if you are able.

You can also try to keep active by walking little and often in your room or onto the ward corridor if you can. (Depending on how your treatment has affected your immune system, you might not be able to leave your side room - if this applies to you, it is important to still walk within your room if you are safe and steady doing so.)

How much you do depends on your energy levels and whether you are still on treatment. If you feel unsteady or have had falls, please speak to the nursing staff - they can refer you for an individual physiotherapy assessment. 

Cancer and its forms of treatment can affect how much you are able to be active. What might be low or moderate intensity for a healthy person might seem like a high-intensity activity for someone with cancer. 

Issues with your immune system

Immune system issues include neutropenia - this is when your levels of a vital white blood cell, called a neutrophil, are reduced. Being neutropenic means that you are at an increased risk of infection. You might be asked to remain in your room on the ward during this time. If you are at home, you might need to avoid certain activities. 


Anaemia means a decreased number of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body. Being anaemic might cause you to feel tired, breathless and fatigued. Listen to your body and seek advice before exercising.

Low platelets

Platelets help with blood clotting and also repair wounds. A low platelet count means that you are at a higher risk of bleeding or bruising. You should avoid activities where you might be at risk of falling.

Stomach problems

During and after treatment you might experience pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.


Any recent surgery is likely to limit you physically. Please check with your medical or surgical team about any restrictions on physical activity or any precautions (special care) you might need to take.

Medical equipment

Attachments such as catheters, IV lines, oxygen tubing and so on might affect what activities you can do.

  • Use your arms normally for day-to-day activities.  
  • Lower limb or bed-based exercises will not cause any issues.
  • If you require further information regarding exercising with either a Hickman or PICC line then please speak with the Clinical Interventions team. 

Other advice following discharge:

  • Avoid tennis and golf.
  • Resistance exercises are ok but avoid completing many repetitions.
  • Avoid exercises that are led by the chest such as press ups or chest press.

Information alert

Be safe!

Be guided by your body as any of these symptoms and side-effects of your cancer and treatment might affect your ability to safely move and exercise. 

If you are in doubt about how much you can safely do - or have questions about doing any exercises - then ask a member of your clinical team. 

A physiotherapist can also help and give advice on a suitable exercise programme or if you are struggling to safely stand and walk. If you would like to speak to a physiotherapist, please ask any of your clinical team for a referral. 

If you have any queries during or after your treatment, you can speak to a clinical nurse specialist, ward nurse, your doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or any member of the team caring for you. 

Our Cancer Information and Support Centres 

Our Cancer Information and Support Centres have lots of useful information and advice, including patient information leaflets and booklets. You can also access our patient information leaflets on this website. 

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support is a national cancer charity which offers a free information service along with practical and emotional support. Calls are answered by specially trained cancer nurses who can give you information on all aspects of cancer and its treatment as well as benefits and finance. If you are a non-English speaker, interpreters are available. Macmillan Cancer Support booklets are also free to patients, their families and carers.

Blood Cancer UK

Blood Cancer UK supports people with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers. They have produced this guidance on physical activity for people with blood cancers.

Cancer Research UK

The Cancer Research UK website has lots of useful information and advice.

The national NHS website has some fantastic information and advice, including:

Local groups: What’s going on around Liverpool? 

There are lots of friendly and supportive groups to support you to be more active and meet other people locally. These include: