At the 2010 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting (ACSM) in Baltimore, the new Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors were presented at a panel led by Kathryn Schmitz of the University of Pennsylvania, Melinda Irwin of Yale University, and myself. These guidelines arose out of an expert roundtable hosted by the Siteman Cancer Center in June 2009 and were also presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference (link) in Washington. The guidelines were published in 2010.
The key take home point of these guidelines is that exercise is safe for cancer survivors and that they should avoid inactivity. Oncologists and surgeons can and should encourage patients to get up and get moving as soon as they are able, and as much as they are able, both during and after treatment for their cancer.
There is an extensive and high quality body of evidence demonstrating not only the safety of exercise but also that activity provides numerous benefits across cancer diagnoses. Clinicians and exercise professionals should tailor exercise recommendations to individual patients, taking into account their general fitness level, specific diagnosis, and factors about their disease that might influence exercise safety. For instance, patients who have undergone bone marrow transplant and have a weakened ability to fight infection, may be advised to avoid exercise in public gyms.
So like the rest of adults, cancer patients can and should try their best to get up and get moving.