People with myeloma may avoid exercise due to pain, fatigue, weakness, fear of fractures, or self-consciousness about appearance. Exercise may seem especially out of reach to those undergoing or recovering from myeloma treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). However, regular physical activity has been shown to benefit people with myeloma in many ways. Exercise can help reduce fatigue and sleep problems. People with myeloma who exercise regularly report better physical function, improved mood, self-esteem, and quality of life. Some myeloma treatments are only recommended for those in good overall condition, so staying physically active may help keep more treatment options open.
Remaining sedentary can speed the loss of strength and function. A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to the development of other conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to osteoporosis, which worsens bone loss in those with myeloma.
For all these reasons, exercise is worthwhile for people with myeloma.
What does it involve?
Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Your doctor may want to check your bones for potential fractures and assess your fitness. You may need to avoid certain types of exercise due to risk for fractures or other issues. Either your doctor or a physical therapist can help guide you toward activities that are safe for your condition.
Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities can range from walking to stair-climbing, using an elliptical machine, dancing, or lifting weights. Even bearing your own body weight or lifting very light weights can strengthen muscles and build bones. Many weight-bearing exercises can be done in a seated position.
Improving balance can help you avoid falls. Exercises that focus on balance include tai chi and yoga, walking on tiptoe, and standing on one leg.
Daily activities such as shopping, gardening, or walking a pet can also provide safe, valuable exercise.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, follow some general safety guidelines. Always begin your workout session with a gradual warm-up and take the time to cool down afterward. Stay hydrated with plenty of cool liquids, choosing beverages without caffeine. While exercising, listen to your body. If you feel pain or become short of breath, take a break and rest. Exercise should be somewhat challenging, but never a struggle.
It is important not to become discouraged early on when beginning an exercise regimen. Set attainable goals and focus on finding ways of staying active that are safe, enjoyable and easy to do regularly. Even a few minutes of exercise each day can provide benefits to those with myeloma.
Exercise can help those with myeloma improve their quality of life and ability to function. Getting regular physical activity can reduce some myeloma symptoms and treatment side effects such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, and mood problems.
A small study involving 24 people receiving chemotherapy and ASCT for multiple myeloma investigated the effects of at-home aerobic and strength-training exercise. None of the participants were injured during exercise, and the researchers found evidence that exercise improved fatigue, sleep problems, and mood disturbances.
Other studies have reported evidence that exercise can improve quality of life and lower-body strength in those with myeloma undergoing chemotherapy and ASCT.
Some people with myeloma live with pain from fractures or spinal cord compression that makes it difficult to exercise. Others avoid exercise because they are at high risk for fractures.
Treatment side effects such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, or nausea may make it more difficult to exercise.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Exercises for myeloma patients Infosheet – Myeloma UK
Feasibility of Exercise During Treatment for Multiple Myeloma – Cancer Nursing
Exploring the Role of Exercise in Patients with Multiple Myeloma – Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Exercise and Stress Management Training Prior to Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network – Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
State of the Science: Exercise to Optimize Health after STEM CELL Transplantation – Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation