Walking Guidelines for People with Cancer to Use at Home

Walking Guidelines for People with Cancer to Use at Home


Exercise, such as walking, is a way to stay active and help reduce some side effects of cancer and cancer treatments.

Exercise may help:

  • Decrease fatigue
  • Boost your energy level
  • Increase your sense of well-being
  • Relieve stress and tension
  • Make your muscles stronger
  • You sleep better

General Walking Guidelines

These guidelines are to help you stay active during your cancer treatment.

  • Ask your doctor if it is all right for you to exercise and if you need to follow any special precautions.
  • Check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to exercise if you have low blood cell counts.
  • If your white blood cell count is low, you are at a higher risk for infection. Talk with your doctor to see if it okay for you to exercise in places where there are many people (health clubs, gyms and shopping malls).


Getting Started

  • Before you start walking, set a goal for how far or how long you will try to walk.
  • Start walking every day, even if just for a few minutes.
  • As you get stronger, slowly increase your walking time during each session. Work up to walking 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  • Decrease the time, distance or how long you walk if you:
    • Become very tired while walking.
    • Feel very tired or fatigued 1 hour after walking.


Track Your Efforts

It may be helpful to write down your walking times on an Exercise Log so you can see your progress. Keep track of the date and time that you walked, how long you walked, how far you walked and how much effort it took for you to walk (0 = no effort, 10 = maximum effort).   


Important Information

You should STOP exercising and rest if you feel:

  • Dizzy or lightheaded
  • Short of breath
  • Chest pain or pressure in your chest
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that does not go away
  • Abnormal pulse or heart beat


If you have any of these symptoms, stop the exercise and rest.

Get medical help if your symptoms do not go away.  



© April 27, 2017. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care.