The WHO found that approximately one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to the use of tobacco, low vegetable and fruit intake, alcohol consumption, increased body mass index, and a lack of physical activity (WHO, 2022).

Poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity have been linked to increased risk of cancer and mortality from cancer. Improving one’s diet, controlling obesity, and exercising can all have a role to play in preventing and managing cancer.

Cancer treatments often involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and other interventions that can lead to physical and functional impairments. Physiotherapists and biokineticists can assist in improving the quality of life of cancer patients by addressing their physical limitations, managing symptoms and side effects that are secondary to cancer treatment, and supporting their overall well-being.

Physical activity can have a positive effect on prevention and improve the prognosis of patients with cancer. There are also chemicals released during and after exercise, namely endorphins and serotonin, which can enhance the psychological well-being of cancer patients. It can assist with improving poor body composition (decreased muscle mass and increased body fat mass), fatigue, stress, low mood, overall deconditioning and a loss of independence.

Exercise recommendations for patients with cancer are similar to those of healthy individuals, which is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that cancer patients should be performing exercise several times a week for at least 10 minutes per session. Resistance training should be done at least 2 days per week, and stretching exercises should be done at least 2 days per week.

Physiotherapists and Biokineticists are involved in the management of cancer patients through

  • Comprehensive assessment: to identify any physical impairments that need to be addressed and have a full background on any previous conditions or history of injuries
  • Exercise prescription: for improved strength, flexibility, endurance, improve fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint stiffness, and improve overall physical functioning. Appropriate exercise recommendations vary depending on the site, type, and severity of the cancer, as well as the treatment and other factors such as previous injuries, comorbidities, and exercise history. Therefore, it is recommended to engage in physical activity under the supervision of a biokineticists and physiotherapist. (#ExerciseisMedicine)
  • Pain management: through exercise, manual therapy, and other modalities to relieve pain, as well as education on pain management that can be done at home
  • Lymphoedema management: Provide education to patients who have a higher risk of developing lymphoedema, which is a common side effect of cancer treatments. Techniques such as compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, and exercises that can assist in reducing and managing lymphoedema
  • Functional mobility training aims to improve and optimise functional mobility and independence with a specific focus on activities of daily living (ADLs) and functional tasks relevant to the individual’s lifestyle.
  • Adaptive and assistive devices: evaluate the patient’s need for adaptive or assistive devices to maintain the patient’s independence for as long as possible.
  • Education and psychosocial support: educating the patient and their families about the possible physical effects of cancer treatment and the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle. Emotional support for the patient and their families and encouragement through rehabilitation. This includes the use of relaxation techniques and mindfulness.
  • Collaboration with the healthcare team: Collaborating with oncologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure a coordinated approach to patient care.
  • Monitoring and adaptation: Patient care is regularly assessed to see a patient’s progress so adjustments to treatment plans can be made accordingly.


Cancer (2022) World Health Organization. Available at:,and%20lack%20of%20physical%20activity. (Accessed: 06 March 2024).

Physical activity in cancer (2024) Physiopedia. Available at:,part%20of%20rehabilitation%20post%2Dop. (Accessed: 06 March 2024).

Media, W. for W. (2022) Biokinetics and cancer, BUDDIES FOR LIFE MAGAZINE. Available at: (Accessed: 06 March 2024).