The Mental, Emotional, & Relational Benefits of Physical Activity After Cancer

Life after cancer can be a challenging phase for survivors. While the physical battle of treatment has subsided, the physical side effects, emotional toll, and mental impact can linger long after the last oncology appointment. One of the most meaningful results of our personalized training program is watching cancer survivors recover their physical, mental, and emotional well-being

After working alongside hundreds of Survivor Fitness participants through 15,000+ training sessions, we’ve seen the life-changing difference that committing to wellness can make for cancer survivors. In this blog post, we wanted to highlight the evidence for how engaging in physical activities can profoundly benefit cancer survivors, not only in terms of their physical health, but also mentally, emotionally, and relationally. 

Here are a few specific ways that physical activity supports the overall restoration and well-being of cancer survivors — along with a few real-world examples from Survivor Fitness participants: 

1. Physical Activity Nurtures Mental Strength & Well-Being

A cancer diagnosis and treatment can have a profound mental toll on a survivor. There are so many times throughout the battle with cancer when people can feel out of control, afraid, and isolated. Engaging in fitness activities provides a renewed sense of control, empowering survivors to reclaim their bodies and minds. Physical exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosting chemicals, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

We’ve seen countless examples where fitness helps survivors develop mental resilience, fostering a positive outlook and improving self-esteem. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Denise Jones — After battling breast cancer twice, Denise was physically and mentally exhausted. But after completing the program, she can say that she has won the mental battle with cancer. Fear and uncertainty can still arise, but she is better prepared to handle them and use her worries as motivation to encourage others.  
  • Maheen — “I feel so much stronger mentally and physically. I feel like I’ve been able to regain control back over my life.” — That’s how Maheen described her new reality after establishing a new workout routine with Survivor Fitness. 

2. Physical Activity Restores Emotional Capacity & Self Worth

After cancer treatment, some individuals can feel anxious, depressed, or disconnected from their bodies. For many Survivor Fitness participants, exercise can be an outlet for processing emotions, reducing stress, and promoting emotional equilibrium. 

It’s amazing to see how one-on-one training sessions allow survivors to focus on their bodies, thoughts, and feelings in the present moment. Daily movement can also provide a healthy way for processing what has happened and for understanding it better. Engaging in fitness over the course of the program also fosters a sense of accomplishment, boosting self-confidence, and enabling survivors to find joy and purpose in their daily lives. Here are a few testimonials from cancer survivors about the emotional benefits of fitness: 

  • Suzanne Gaulden — There were many days when Suzanne felt like she had to “hold things together” through treatment. Through Survivor Fitness, she found strength and motivation by showing up — just as she was, with whatever she had to offer that day. 
  • Shawyn King — Because of the way treatment impacted her body, Shawyn could barely walk up the eight steps that led to the training facility, leaving her discouraged and frustrated. Today, she is s able to run those stairs like “Rocky” and still benefits from the encouragement and support of her trainers.

3. Physical Activity Strengthens Relationships In New Ways

Cancer survivors often receive a lot of encouragement and support while undergoing treatment. After cancer treatment, survivors may experience a sense of isolation, as their social dynamics shift. At Survivor Fitness, our program creates a unique opportunity to connect with others through physical activity who share similar experiences, forming a supportive community. Sharing their journey with others who have faced similar challenges can provide a deep sense of validation and understanding, fostering meaningful relationships that aid in the healing process. 

Many times, we’ve seen how investing in physical activity and recovery creates opportunities for cancer survivors to give back and engage their other relationships in new ways. Here are a few of our favorite success stories that highlight the power of restored relationships:  

  • Shaundra Kee — As a young mother who enjoyed working out, Shaundra was devastated by the effect cancer treatment had on her body. Today, being able to ride bikes and play at the park with her daughter are two of her favorite activities. 
  • Natasha Leeth — After treatment, Natasha was committed to looking for new ways to move forward. Through the program, Natasha was able to regain strength that allowed her to carry her grandchild again, as well as care for her son after an injury. 

Survivor Fitness: A Holistic Recovery Program after Cancer

For cancer survivors, the path to recovery extends beyond the physical realm. At Survivor Fitness, we’ve seen how a holistic and personalized approach to physical training becomes a transformative tool, allowing survivors to regain control, rebuild emotional well-being, foster supportive relationships, and rediscover their physical strength. By embracing fitness, survivors can embark on a journey of healing that encompasses the mind, body, and soul.

If you’re a cancer survivor or know someone who might be interested in focusing on health and wellness after treatment, learn more about our approach or sign up for our 12-week program today.