Exercise and Nutrition

Coping with Lymphoma

Exercise and Nutrition

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for lymphoma patients as well as their caregivers. Regular physical activity helps keep the cardiovascular system strong and body muscles flexible.  Exercise can also help alleviate breathing problems, constipation, and mild depression.  It also helps reduce stress and fatigue.  It is advised to speak with the doctor before starting an exercise routine.

Several types of exercise are particularly helpful:

  • General physical activity, such as swimming, dancing, household chores, and yard work
  • Aerobic activity to improve cardiovascular fitness, such as walking, jogging, and bicycling
  • Resistance training to strengthen muscles, protect joints, and help remedy osteoporosis by building bone mass
  • Flexibility exercises such as stretching and yoga to improve range of motion, balance, and stability

Eating a healthy diet is especially important during and after treatment because it will help to keep up strength and energy, tolerate treatment-related side effects, decrease risk of infection, and heal and recover more quickly.  Aim for a diet high in fruits and vegetables, protein (poultry, fish and eggs), and whole grains.  During chemotherapy and after a stem cell transplant, it may be advised to temporarily avoid raw fruits and vegetables that may increase the risk of infection due to a low white blood cell count (called a “neutropenic diet”).  Dietary supplements should be discussed with the doctor, as well as any herbal or “natural” supplements, because they may interfere with treatments or have unexpected side effects. 

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