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Blood cancer and keeping active

Ways to move more, help getting started, and tips to stay motivated.

What you need to know

Whether you’re living with or after leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or any other blood cancer:

  1. Being active is safe – Just let your doctor or nurse know about your plans.
  2. It’s good for you – Being active improves your fitness and strength. It can help you recover from treatment, reduce fatigue and boost your mood and well-being.
  3. Anyone can get more active – You don’t have to go running or do high intensity workouts.

Jane's story

Leukaemia won’t stop me from getting fit – neither will COVID-19

Jane's story

Seven tips for getting started

If getting more active feels overwhelming, here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Build up your strength – You may need to build up some muscle strength first, so you can start trying other activities. Use the videos below to gradually build up strength.
  2. Use free exercise videos for people with blood cancer – See below for exercise classes with a cancer exercise specialist and people living with blood cancer.
  3. Walking is good exercise – Start with five or 10 minutes a day and slowly build it up.
  4. Next week, try doing one simple activity each day (aim for 10 minutes) – Anything that gets you moving counts, whether it’s walking in the garden, going up and down the stairs, or doing some housework.
  5. Do something you enjoy, as you’re more likely to keep it up – If you're not sure, ask other people for recommendations and try something new!
  6. Make it social – This usually helps people stick to their plans. Find an exercise buddy (your partner, a friend, a neighbour) and follow a plan together.
  7. Get tips from other people with blood cancer – Join our online community and look for the thread "How I am trying to keep fit".
  8. Use an activity planner to think ahead and record your achievements – setting goals and feeling proud will help you continue. Order an activity planner from our online shop.

I’m so pleased I’ve managed to find new ways to keep fit and still enjoy exercise. I am stronger and fitter. Whatever you enjoy, there is an online class out there for you!

- Jane

Exercise videos for people living with or after blood cancer

Once you’ve spoken to your doctor or nurse about keeping active, you could try these simple exercises, demonstrated by Anthea and Marion, who are both living with blood cancer.

The exercises will help you to move more, gradually build up your strength and find a level of activity that feels right for you.

It’s really important that you warm up before exercise. Before trying any of the videos on this page, start with this gentle warm-up.

A series of low-impact cardio exercises to energise and build fitness.

Exercises to build strength if you're living with blood cancer.

Take 12 minutes to try these floor-based exercises to build fitness and strength.

It’s important that you stretch and cool down after exercise. Follow this simple cool-down routine after any fitness session.

Cancer Exercise Specialist Lizzy shares her top 10 tips for keeping active with or after blood cancer.

Staying motivated

When there's lots going on, it can be hard to keep new things up, even when you know they’re making you feel better.

Your activity levels might change week to week, for many different reasons. Go easy on yourself, it’s normal to have ups and downs.

Talk to other people with blood cancer about getting active in our online community – you’ll find lots of people there to cheer you on!

An activity planner can help you plan activities for the week and celebrate what you achieve each day – big or small. Order an activity planner from our online shop. You can stick it on your fridge or somewhere you’ll notice it.

How to progress

If and when you’re ready, you could think about how to build up your daily activity. Find out what is recommended for your age group – NHS UK has more information on what to work towards. As a general guide aim for:

  1. 20-30 minutes of being active daily. 
  2. Activities to keep your muscles strong at least twice a week.
  3. Cut down on the amount of time you spend sitting down if you can. When sitting, try to get up and move every so often, even just to get a drink or make a phone call.

The websites We Are Undefeatable and OneYou have lots of activity ideas. Or If you could try the NHS couch to 5k podcasts to gradually start or get back to running.

Share your story about living well

Your experience can help others with blood cancer

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Janssen-Cilag Ltd has supported Blood Cancer UK with funding for the production of this web page and others within the ‘Living well’ section. It had no influence over the content.