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Strength Training While on Chemo


Recently I found out I have lymphoma. Right now I am waiting on the results from a PET/CT scan but my oncologist thinks it may only be Stage I or II since I am currently asymptomatic other than some slight swelling on the right side of my neck.I also had a tonsillectomy on the right side which is how they confirmed the diagnosis. Has anyone dealt with this and how did you train around it?


Brother best wishes to you… I have no idea honestly how too advise you. My wife is a cancer survivor and from watching her go through Chemo you will have up and down days.


You are in my prayers!
I think it does depend on the course of action with the treatment you will receive. These days there are so many different ways doctors do treatments depending on stage and type. The stories you hear all depends on the person. Being active is wonderful however your rest will be valuable too. Cardio might be great not only to stay active but to clear your mind too. Best wishes!


I’ve trained two people during their chemo treatments. Here is what I remember,

  • Had to limit anything where the head went up and down quickly

One of the people was in very good cardiovascular shape, and liked to push their heart rate in the workouts.

Exercises like burpees and swings had been staples on and off for years, but we couldn’t do them during chemo. They would right away get very light headed, and frankly, miserable.

It was enough that anything where the head went up and down due to the body leaning over (RDLs, Bent Over Row, etc.), I took it out of the routine.

  • Strength training was fine, within reason

As long as we didn’t go nuts, they had no problems lifting weights. Granted, we weren’t trying to get stronger, we were just trying to maintain their strength. But I remember being very surprised how well this went.

  • If push comes to shove, you probably want to lean towards some cardio

If you only have the option, or energy, to lift or do something more cardiovascularly demanding (walking, lifting in a circuit, bike, etc.) you probably want to lean towards the higher heart rate work.

I’m not up to date on this, but a few years back when I was training them, some research had been coming out on how those who exercised during chemo had better results. I believe the thinking was more blood flow might be helpful for the chemo treatment, since it helped circulate the drugs.

All in all, I don’t remember any restrictions by the doctors, which also surprised me. I remember them being very encouraging of doing something.

One of my main concerns was how many germs there are in a gym, and exposing an immunosuppressed person to that. Again, I wasn’t given any restrictions or concerns about this, but again, I’ve only worked with a couple people.

Hope your treatment is going well!