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Walking and swimming for cancer care

Walking and the pedometer challenge for cancer care

Walking is a great way to exercise as it can have benefits for cardiovascular fitness, mobility, and weight management and the combined effect of released endorphins, and  time to yourself, or with friends can do much for improving psychological well-being. Walk on your own, meet friends or join a walking group, there are many ways to benefit from this exercise.


  • It’s a good idea to start off by tracking your current activity levels using a pedometer. You can then track progress and improvements over time.
  • Only increase distances and times spent walking gradually. 5-10% per week is usually a good guide.
  • It is a good idea to work on the duration and step count first and once you are doing enough in an average day, then consider the intensity that you are walking at.
  • Consider using intervals to vary the workload and help make positive changes to your exercise physiology. Lamppost walking is one method and involves walking at different speeds from one lamppost to the next.
  • If you have a weak bladder then consider a circular route with reasonable access to required facilities rather than walking “out and back”.
  • Walking with a friend or a group is a great way of sustaining a walking programme over a longer period. If you are a different fitness level than each other then go out together but take occasional diversions and short cuts so you can both work at the most appropriate intensities.
  • Consider wearing comfortable shoes but don’t feel you need to spend much money on new ones.

Take the pedometer challenge.

Tracking your activity levels can be a great way of finding out just how active you are and used regularly it can also become a trigger that can motivate you to be more active.

On most of our programmes we lend pedometers to participants as a means of tracking current activity levels and supporting behaviour change. If you want to buy your own, you don’t need to spend much for it to be effective and there are many for less than £10 which all do a similar job. From our experience, we think it’s one of the best financial investments you can make in your own health.

Download the pedometer challenge for a ten week activity diary that can be used in conjunction with a pedometer.

Swimming for cancer care

Swimming is another great way to exercise as it can have benefits for cardiovascular fitness, mobility, and weight management and the combined effect of released endorphins, weightlessness and time to yourself can do much for improving psychological well-being. Swim on your own, meet friends or go along to an aqua class, there are many ways to benefit from exercising in the water.



  • If you’re a swimmer returning to the pool after treatment, consider the use of a float and a staged return to swimming. After time away from the pool you may not be as fit as you once were.
  • If you have lowered immunity, consider whether the pool is a suitable environment.
  • If you have a lower back problem, limit your use of breaststroke as it requires a sustained hyperextension of the lower back. Alternatively, hold a float to your chest while kicking on your back, or use side strokes. If you need to use breaststroke then it is better to put your head in the water between strokes and lengthen your body out.
  • Consider different pools; flat pool floors can give you more confidence than sloped floors and the temperature of water and changing facilities can vary between facilities.
  • It is never too late to have lessons, and there are many opportunities to have group or individual sessions.
  • Aquarobics is a great way to get active in the water. Most pools will have group aqua sessions each week so why not find out when they are.
  • Get your head in the water! From our experience this is one of the biggest barriers to improving technique in adults and when you have cracked it there are no limits!