The first thing you want to consider when starting a physical activity plan is your health limitations. Consult with your physician before starting any physical activity.

If you live a sedentary, or inactive, lifestyle, you should start by walking for 20–30 minutes a day. Most people feel that motivation is the key factor in sustaining their physical activity. Many people use music or podcasts to listen to while participating in their physical activity.

Physical activity can consist of cardio exercise (walking, running, biking, rowing, etc.), strength training (weightlifting), and stretching, etc.

Exercise can help with fatigue and depression for many people. When patients have cancer and are on cancer treatments, their energy reserve may be lower than normal for various reasons (including but not limited to the burden of the cancer disease, anemia, etc).

If lung cancer patients don’t have restrictions with anemia or from the burden of their cancer disease, then exercise will most likely improve their side effects of fatigue/depression from their lung cancer treatment.

The types of exercise that are appropriate for patients with lung cancer are patient-specific.

Shortness of breath while doing an exercise is common and expected to an acceptable degree.

One should not develop other dangerous symptoms from this, such as chest discomfort, dizziness, or lightheadedness. This is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve given it more than it can handle, and I would recommend that they scale back the intensity so that symptoms do not occur other than some shortness of breath, which is once again an expected symptom to an acceptable degree.

One should also not feel pain in the muscles or joints when exercising, as this could be a sign that the intensity is too high for the body to handle.

Goals when exercising are almost always person-specific.

The heart rate is a good indicator of how hard the body is working in an exercise and I would recommend tailoring your physical activity around it to make sure you do not over-exert your body to dangerous levels (exceeding the maximal expected heart rate) or even underachieve (not reach the target heart rate zone for your specific age).

Try to be aware of how your body feels, and scale back if symptoms develop.

A personal trainer is a wonderful idea for most people, if their budget allows it.

A personal trainer can keep you on track and hold you accountable for exercise plans so that you don’t … skip. They can also focus on your form while you are doing the exercise, so that you can shift a little bit more of your focus to exerting the energy needed to carry out the exercise.

Always consult with a doctor before starting an exercise plan, and communicate this information (limitations, goals, etc.) to your personal trainer so that all three parties are on the same page.

Safety is very important when exercising, as even minor injuries can set you back by weeks or months and possibly derail your motivation.

Cardio exercises and stretching exercises are mostly safe, even if performed alone.

However, when strength training, one needs to make sure that someone is around them and in visible sight in case they need help. Strength training that requires heavy weights is not machine-based (barbells and dumbbells) are best done with a spotter to assist if needed.

Dr. Sheel Patel is an ABMS board certified physician in hematology, oncology, and internal medicine. Dr. Patel is a practicing physician at the Orlando VA Medical Center in Florida. He specializes in genitourinary oncology.