Research has shown that exercise has numerous health benefits for almost everyone. They include promoting heart health, muscle and bone strength and flexibility, reducing the risk of conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure and hip fractures and also support for our mental health. There is also evidence that too much time spent sitting or lying down rather than moving around can be harmful. You can read more about the physical and mental health benefits of exercise at Benefits of exercise - NHS and 'About physical activity', Mind charity. The current general recommendation is for adults to do 150 minutes of exercise a week, made up of different activities.

Exercise can also be beneficial to people diagnosed with ovarian cancer, although you will need to make sure that it is safe and suitable for you. For example, after surgery it is usually helpful to do breathing and leg exercises to reduce the risk of chest infections and blood clots and you will be encouraged to get up as soon as it’s safe for you to do so to maintain your muscle strength.

However, it’s important to be gentle with yourself while you’re healing and recovering. Your physiotherapist or Clinical Nurse Specialist will advise you on which exercises are safe and beneficial for you to do as your recovery progresses. You can find more information on surgery for ovarian cancer here on our website and at christie.nhs.uk.

Exercise can also help to support your health during chemotherapy and alleviate some of the side effects. In particular, gentle exercise such as short walks, yoga and tai chi can help to maintain your energy levels if you’re experiencing fatigue. We posted about this in an earlier ‘Health in Focus’ post at healthunlocked.com/ovacome. If you’re experiencing peripheral neuropathy which is affecting your balance, you can adapt your approach to exercise, for example by exercising in a chair or using a stationary bike. Your team will be able to advise you about the types of exercise that you can try safely and help you to find a way to exercise that suits you.

You can watch a video by Cancer Exercise Specialist Lizzy Davis about the benefits of exercise during and after treatment. Lizzy has also recorded videos of wall-based strength exercises and exercise for people with a stoma.

Ovacome also offers weekly gentle exercise classes with Lizzy, which you can register here. Ovacome also offers four-week yoga course programmes, information for the next yoga sessions and dates will be put on our events page here.

The Penny Brohn Centre has some exercise classes for people who have been diagnosed with cancer on its website here.

Your team may know of local gentle exercise classes run by cancer support centres, gyms or community groups, although at the moment it is likely that most classes will be either suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions or taking place virtually. If you would like us to research available activities in your local area, please get in touch with us.

If you would like to share your experiences of exercise during and after ovarian cancer treatment or have any tips, please comment on this post. If you would like information or support, please contact our Support Line on 0800 008 7054 or email [email protected]