We understand that people with cancer are worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance. We will update it regularly.

Ask a Physio

Ask Hannah, our volunteer Physiotherapist, any questions about getting active during or after your cancer treatment. She'll aim to get back to you in 2 working days.

How much activity can i do safely

United girl
Posted by


Last October I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast. Before that I ran, I cycled and I went to circuits. I've had 3 operations, the last being a mastectomy and I'm having chemotherapy. I have some forcing and a slight swelling but for the days of my 21 day chemo cycle I feel normal and would like to work my now flabby self back into a bit of shape. I am terrified of doing something that causes damage. Please could you give me some idea? Thanks

Ellen B - Macmillan


Thanks for posting your question to Hannah, our physiotherapist. I hope you don't mind me responding here, my name's Ellen and I work on the Community team here at Macmillan.

I'm sorry that you've not had a response just yet. I wanted to get in touch to let you know that Hannah is aware your question is here and she'll respond as soon as she's able to. The majority of our experts are volunteers and they respond to questions as soon as they can.

As we are currently closing our Ask an Expert sessions temporarily due to the situation with coronavirus (COVID-19), I wanted to assure you that you'll still receive a response from Hannah.

In the meantime, I hope you're finding the Community to be a source of comfort and support.

Best wishes,

Macmillan Community Team

Hannah - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thank you for getting in touch. Your worries are completely understandable. The good news is, there are certainly things you can do to get more active again, without causing any harm.

Assuming your mastectomy was over 6 weeks ago, you are not restricted in what you can do exercise wise. My advice would be to be guided by your discomfort/pain. It is also worth taking into account levels of fatigue, etc. 

Due to current circumstances, you will be self-isolating for 12 weeks as per Government advice. It would be beneficial to start with a home exercise programme, to slowly build up your exercise tolerance again. This should involve gentle cardio ("conditioning") and strengthening exercises ("resistance").

If you have lymph node removal, continue to be mindful of your arm during exercise due to risks of lymphoedema. Do contact a medical professional or nurse specialist, if you notice any redness or swelling in the affected arm. 

You should work towards the Government recommended exercise guidance with is 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise per week, plus two strengthening sessions per week.

Here are some links that may be helpful to support you at home:









I hope this is reassuring to you - keep yourself safe at this difficult time and I hope you start feeling stronger soon.

Best wishes,

Hannah Senior Physiotherapist

Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.