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  • Carol Michaels

Exercising Safely for Multiple Myeloma Patients

Multiple myeloma patients can benefit from exercise. Studies have indicated that exercise may increase fitness and energy levels, improve mood, and help patients better tolerate cancer treatments. Exercise can increase strength and aerobic capacity, improve joint flexibility, and assist with resumption of regular activities and work demands. Exercise is good for our emotional health and is one thing that you can control and do for yourself. Physical activity can be empowering and can decrease depression and anxiety.


It’s important to focus on exercises designed to treat osteoporosis, a common side effect of treatments, in order to strengthen bones and muscles. Another common side effect of chemotherapy is peripheral neuropathy, which changes the sensation in the legs

so it is important to perform balance exercises in order to prevent falls.  Fear of falling is a serious problem for someone with osteoporosis and can cause one to become inactive, which will accelerate loss of bone mass.


How should multiple myeloma patients get started to exercise safely?


  • Weight bearing, strength training and balance exercises should be performed according to fatigue. Start with a light weight, performing one set of 10 reps. Add weight slowly.

  • Strength training should be done two to three times per week without working the same muscle group two days in a row. Improving muscle strength will also help improve balance.

  • If you have poor balance, you may want to start with the exercises that are safer for those who have balance problems. 

  • Good form is important. Focus on quality over quantity of repetitions.

  • Rotate your muscle groups so that you don’t overwork the muscles in one area.

  • Wait 48 hours between strength training sessions. Use the day in between strength training sessions for aerobic exercise and stretching.


Tips for multiple myeloma patients starting to exercise

  • Have both short term and long-term exercise goals. Goals should be able to be adapted to changes in work, health, and family situations.

  • Your immune system may be compromised, which places you at risk for infection.

  • Be smart and safe by doing the exercises that are right for you currently. You are exercising to get healthy, not to get hurt. This is an important point to keep in mind, particularly for those who were physically active before cancer. You will not be able to immediately resume the same level of pre-cancer activity.

  • If your blood counts or the mineral levels are low, check with your health professional before resuming exercise.

  • Know your limits. You should be able to differentiate between discomfort and unusual pain.

  • Stop if you feel pain.  Listen to your body and use common sense. If something does not feel right, do not do it. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing pain, swelling, or unusual fatigue.

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