Cancer Recovery Exercise Services

Cancer Recovery Exercise Services

Cancer and it’s treatments can cause many different side effects that impact physical functioning, independence and quality of life.  After being diagnosed with cancer, common treatments include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapy, which can all reduce strength, energy, fitness and overall physical capacity.  

Research consistently shows that exercise, when prescribed correctly, can be a safe and effective treatment strategy to help prevent, manage and improve many of the side effects of cancer and it’s treatments. 

Exercise has been shown to:
•    Reduce cancer-related fatigue
•    Improve balance, stability and independence
•    Increase overall quality of life
•    Increase aerobic capacity (fitness)
•    Reduce brain-fog and chemo-brain
•    Improve bladder control and incontinence
•    Increase muscle strength and muscle mass
•    Improve bone density
•    Improve long-term survival
•    Increase joint range of motion and flexibility
•    Reduce joint and muscle pain
•    Manage and improve lymphedema
•    Enhance overall physical functioning Improve body composition and weight management

Exercise is one of the most effective non-pharmacological ways to manage side effects of cancer treatments and it is unique as it can target multiple systems at one time.  

The recommended amount of exercise for a person with cancer is:
150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week and 2 strength training sessions. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may have very different exercise requirements and recommendations, which is where our specialized team can help.

Our Cancer Recovery Therapists

We have both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists who are experienced in working with patients with a cancer diagnosis.  Our team works with patients before, during and after cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, etc) and into recovery and survivorship.  We work with people of all ages with all types of cancers, at all stages of diagnosis and all levels of physical ability. We understand the complexities of the cancer journey; the specific surgeries and physical rehabilitation requirements; the effects of different chemotherapies, medications, radiation and hormone therapy on physical functioning; the side-effects of treatments and long-term physical recovery expectations. Our team also understands that your experience is unique and individual and we tailor your rehabilitation and exercise plans accordingly.

Our Cancer Recovery Services

Our services are designed to support you physically, from diagnosis through to survivorship.  You can use these services at any point in your cancer journey.  Your partner or support person is also able to access these services.


Initial Assessment: 

The initial health and fitness assessment is essential for all patients as it helps to understand baseline physical measures and to identify any areas of concern.  The results of this assessment are used to design your individualized treatment plan.  The assessment involves a detailed discussion on your cancer history and treatments, goal setting, postural analysis, body composition assessment, range of motion and flexibility testing, balance and stability testing, muscle strength and endurance testing, physical function tests and a cardiovascular fitness test.  The results of these tests are discussed and an individualized treatment plan is designed to meet your needs and goals.

Treatment Plan 

The treatment plan is a general overview of the exercise and rehabilitation that has been recommended for you.  It will outline short- and long-term treatment goals, weekly exercise requirements, the type of treatment required and any other information specific to your exercise-based treatment.

Physiotherapy-specific Rehabilitation

For some people, specific Physiotherapy rehabilitation may be required.  The main cancer-specific conditions that our Physiotherapists work with are:

  • Pelvic floor rehabilitation / bladder incontinence (e.g. after Prostatectomy or Gynaecological surgeries)
  • Post-surgery rehabilitation - initial rehabilitation immediately post-surgery (e.g. after Mastectomy / Lumpectomy, bowel resection, esophagectomy, hysterectomy, liver resection, etc)
  • Axillary Web Syndrome (Cording) (can present after some breast cancer surgeries)
  • Joint range of motion issues - Frozen shoulder, joint tightness (e.g. after some cancer surgeries or radiation)

Supervised Exercise Programs

Comprehensive, individualized exercise programs are designed based on your initial assessment results and can be delivered in a supervised or home-based setting.  The exercise program will address your current physical condition, side effects of treatments (e.g. Fatigue) and work towards helping you achieve your physical goals.  Are programs are evidence-based, which means they they draw from the latest quality research in this area.

Common conditions treated include:

  • Cancer-related fatigue: Detailed guidance given around exercise intensity and exercise amounts to ensure you improve your energy and reduce your fatigue.
  • Cancer and treatment side effects: Most side effects of cancer and treatments can be improved and managed though appropriate exercise. Issues exercise can help include muscle atrophy (wasting), strength loss, bone/joint pain, lymphedema, peripheral neuropathy, bone density loss, and overall physical function.
  • Post-surgery exercise rehabilitation: physical rehab after cancer surgeries (e.g. stem cell transplant, breast cancer surgeries and reconstruction, Prostatectomy, colorectal surgery, gynaecological surgeries).  
  • Metastatic cancer exercise programs: patients with metastatic cancer often face additional challenges and have different exercise and safety requirements. We commonly work with patients with metastasis to the bone, lungs, liver and brain and help them to safely exercise.
  • Pre-surgery “Prehabilitation” programs: If you have an upcoming surgery, you may benefit from starting exercise before surgery.  Your exercise needs will depend on the type of surgery you are having and your program will be tailored to you.

Our exercise programs are normally delivered in a one-on-one format.  Small group training is also available.

Return to Work Conditioning

Our team is experienced in assessing your physical needs to assist in a successful return-to-work. If you are currently off work due to cancer, your extended medical company may fund a return-to-work conditioning program to improve your physical capacity and get you job-ready. To access this service, contact your Extended Medical company and ask to have a physical assessment with one of our Exercise Physiologists.  

After the assessment, a full report will be developed that will identify your physical needs for return to work, number of exercise sessions required, physiotherapy requirements (if needed), and any other recommendations to assist in a successful return to work.  

We commonly work with patients who have finished cancer treatments are are looking to return to work in 3 - 6 months.  Common issues include cancer-related fatigue, general physical de-conditioning, muscle strength loss and bone/joint/body pain.

Home Exercise Programs

If you would like to have a structured exercise program to perform at your home or gym, this is a great option.  Our Exercise Physiologist will perform a full assessment and then design an individualized exercise program based on your needs, the equipment you have access to, the frequency that you wish to exercise and anything else that needs to be considered.  You will receive the full comprehensive exercise program and can get started!  Normally, people come back to have program reviews every 1-3 months to adjust the program as necessary.

Education Sessions / Workshops

Educational workshops are held throughout the year and are designed for patients and practitioners. We also regularly present on “exercise and cancer” and many specific topics in this area. If you would like an education session delivered to your patients or staff, please contact us.  In the past, our staff have presented to patients and cancer survivors at Burnaby Hospital, Richmond Hospital, Vancouver Prostate Cancer Supportive Care Program, Re-think Breast cancer, and to staff at BC Cancer.

Cancer Recovery Group Exercise Classes

  • Individualized exercise program delivered in a small-group class
  • Supervised by Cancer Exercise Specialist 
  • Suitable for anyone with a cancer diagnosis, before, during and after cancer treatment, post-surgery & into survivorship
  • Price: $35 per class/ $150 for 5-pack
  • Class Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri 11AM; Tues 5PM 

TO REGISTER: call 604-875-6207