Nutrition, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes During Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Planning Your Exercise Program

Before you jump right into an exercise regimen, try to take it slow and plan ahead. First, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance on when, how much, and how long you can exercise. Some other things to consider may include:
 
  • Always do some warm-up stretching for about two to three minutes before exercising
  • Start slowly, even if it's just for a few minutes a day, and progress incrementally
  • Listen to your body -- if your muscles are hurting, you need to slow down and rest
  • Try short periods of exercise -- you can divide the activity into three 10-minute sessions, for example
  • Take lots of breaks
  • Perform exercises that use large muscle groups, such as your back, thighs, abdomen (stomach), and chest
  • Incorporate resistance bands or light weights to help improve lean muscle mass and bone strength
  • Include activities like stretching or yoga to increase your flexibility and keep the range of motion in your joints
  • Make your exercise program enjoyable
  • Don't forget to breathe
  • Don't push yourself -- rest when you need to.
 
You can set some goals for yourself, including daily goals, weekly goals, and long-term goals. Make sure you are setting realistic goals, as you may become discouraged if you do too much at first and then can't keep up. Also, setting unrealistic goals may cause you to want to give up exercising altogether if you are unable to reach the goals you set.
 

Making It Count

To get the most out of your physical activity, it's important to get your heart pumping. Even if you have to start off slow, exercise for at least 10 minutes. If you are extremely tired or get short of breath, rest for a bit and then start exercising again as you are able. Over the next few weeks, try to increase the amount of time you exercise.  
 
Although exercise will vary for each woman, the goals are the same -- to keep up your muscle strength and allow you to do the things you want to on a daily basis. Some studies have been done on survivors of ovarian cancer. In these studies, women with higher levels of physical activity after diagnosis tended to live longer and had less chance of the cancer coming back.
 
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