You don’t need to have been physically active prior to your cancer diagnosis to start moving. It only takes a few minutes of physical exercise a day to enjoy its many benefits: increased energy levels, better stress and anxiety management, fatigue reduction, alleviation of certain side effects, etc.

Exercise when you have cancer: yes you can!

Moderate exercise tailored to your condition should not pose a problem, unless your doctor says otherwise. Here are some tips for gradually incorporating physical activity into your life with cancer:
  • Be active at a regular time, choosing the time of day when you have the most energy.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily activities. For example, use the stairs instead of the elevator or walk instead of taking the car whenever possible.
  • Exercise with a friend or relative. Plan physical activities with other cancer patients that you meet during treatment.
  • If the weather is bad, do your exercises inside.
Source: En forme pour combattre le cancer : un programme d'exercices pour les personnes qui en sont atteintes et celles qui y ont survécu, 2006, 303 p. Borrow this book.

Listen to your body

When undergoing treatment for cancer, it is essential to respect your limits and be in tune with your body. Don’t compare yourself to others, progress slowly, and at any sign of complications (e.g. joint or muscle pain, nausea, dizziness) discontinue the activity and let your medical team or kinesiologist know about it.

The Quebec Cancer Foundation: your wellness partner

The Foundation offers a physical activity program tailored to the condition of people with cancer. Get moving and come and learn about it from our kinesiologists!

Eating well

Nutrition plays a very important role for people undergoing treatment for cancer. Good nutrition is achieved through a combination of foods carefully chosen to satisfy the different needs of the organism.

A balanced diet:
  • helps healthy body cells quickly regain normal function after treatment;
  • helps repair body tissue damaged by treatment;
  • helps you tolerate the side effects of treatment;
  • helps strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of infection;
  • helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight;
  • helps promote the optimal functioning of your organism;
  • helps you regain your energy and lead a more active lifestyle. In addition, insufficient food intake causes the body to drain its energy and reserves of nutrients (iron, calcium, protein, etc.);
  • helps improve your well-being and quality of life.
People with cancer usually need extra energy and protein to maintain their weight and increase their resistance. If your daily diet does not allow you to maintain a good energy balance. we strongly recommend that you add nutritious snacks or nutritional supplements to your diet.


Proteins are essential in building and repairing muscle, skin, hair and bones. They also help the body fight against infection. People receiving treatment for cancer should consume 1.2 g to 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. N.B. your body can utilize animal sources of protein more efficiently than vegetable sources.

Vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids

Several vitamins and minerals and certain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential to the proper functioning of the body. In addition, they promote healing in damaged tissue. It may be prudent to take extra vitamins and minerals if you lack appetite, if you eat little meat, or if you have to eliminate certain foods or food groups from your diet. However, if you are receiving chemotherapy, we suggested that you consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking supplements.

Too tired to cook?

Fatigue is certainly one of the main adverse effects of treatment. Be careful not to neglect your diet!

Useful tips

  • If you rest first, you will eat better.
  • Opt for frozen foods, prepared meals, canned food, quickly made desserts, so as not to tire yourself with cooking.
  • Eat small amounts, but more often; nutritious snacks are strongly suggested (muffins or cereal with milk, crackers with cheese or peanut butter, yogurt with fruit, nuts and seeds).
  • Enjoy the moments when you are not tired to eat full meals or prepare dishes and freeze them. .
  • Accept help from those around you.
  • Use nutritional supplements to replace a meal occasionally, discussing with your doctor first.
  • Make sure your food is nutritious!
  • Add grated cheese to your eggs, your sauces and your vegetables.
  • Add milk instead of water for cooking hot cereal.
  • Replace non-nutritive liquids (tea, coffee, cola) with milk

Bien manger pour mieux vivre: a tool developed by the Quebec Cancer Fouindation

The Quebec Cancer Foundation developed the brochure Bien manger pour mieux vivre to inform people with cancer and their families about the importance of a healthy diet during cancer treatment. The brochure covers the following broad themes: cancer and its treatment, the basic principles of a healthy diet, tips for putting on weight, tips for lessening the side effects of the illness, and-easy-to-make recipes and helpful thoughts for those undergoing treatment. You can consult the brochure online.

Comment on this article

Sign up for our newsletter


Related items

Beauty tips for cancer patients

Your skin, hair and nails may be affected by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Here is a list of little things you can do to better cope with these side effects. Readmore

Facts and statistics about cancer

Following is a summary of certain facts and statistics on cancer we hope will guide you through the wealth of information available on the subject. Readmore

Meeting with the oncologist

Patients often have lots of questions to ask our doctor when it comes time to meet him. The nursing staff on the Info-Cancer Line (1 800 363-00631 800 363-0063 FREE) can help you prepare for the meeting, by clarifying your questions and putting them in order. Readmore

The emotional challenge of a cancer diagnosis

The verdict is in: “You have cancer.” Your reaction: “Why me? What will happen now? How do I announce it to others?” The word “cancer” is still frightening, taboo and equated with death. It is seen as an invisible enemy to be eradicated. In this word there is the idea of something bad inside, the belief of being responsible for the illness and the notion of a disease without a cure. So what is it, exactly?


Balancing work and support for a family member

Balancing your job and your role as caregiver for a person with cancer can be a real challenge. Sometimes you need to reduce your work hours or even quit your job to dedicate yourself full time to the person affected by the illness. Readmore