Keeping active

In this video, Charlie explains how his non-Hodgkin lymphoma affected his karate and swimming. He talks about how he stayed connected to his hobbies and what he’s up to now. 

Your questions about keeping active

Can I still exercise when I am having treatment?

Being active can help you to stay healthy and feel better about yourself but it’s a good idea to talk to the people who look after you at the hospital first. Some sports may not be a good idea at certain stages of your treatment. For example, if you have a central line (sometimes called a wiggly), it’s best to avoid sports where it may get pulled out.

But there are lots of other sporty things you could do, including cycling, dance and yoga. Setting yourself a goal, such as scoring a goal for your football club or performing with your dance club, can give you something to focus on and look forward to. 

Is it safe to play rugby?

If you feel well enough, carrying on with sport and exercise is a great way to help you stay healthy. But if you're having treatment you might need to stop contact sports like rugby or judo for a while. You could always try something different though!

Can I still go swimming if I have a central line?

Speak to your hospital team, but if you have a line or a port (a gadget that sits under your skin) the answer to this is probably no. This is because your line or port may get infected if it gets wet. If the doctor in charge of your treatment agrees, you may be able to do water therapy with a physiotherapist (someone who helps people get better after an illness). This will help to strengthen your muscles and bones. Your physiotherapist will cover your line so that it doesn’t get wet.

Can I still ride my bike while I'm having treatment?

If you have a central line (or a wiggly) you may not be able to do sports where it might get pulled out. But if you're feeling up to riding your bike, it's a good way to keep healthy and active. Just make sure you check first!

How can I stay in touch with friends at my sports club? 

If you love a sport like football, karate, tennis or gymnastics it can be really annoying and sad if you have to stop doing it. Even if you can’t take part, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your club if you can. Get your mum, dad or carer to ask the club to send you all the latest news about what’s happening. You could even go along and watch matches or competitions sometimes, or get involved in other ways like judging at matches. 

It’s been a long time since I played any sport. What if I can't do it as well?

The trick is to start doing some gentle exercise as soon as you are feeling well enough. This will help you start to feel fitter again. You could ask the people looking after you in hospital if you can start doing a bit more activity.

There are lots of different ways to get moving! You could walk or cycle to school, or go to your local park with a cricket set, football or some hula-hoops. Your family might want to go for a bike ride or play dance games at home. Try not to wear yourself out though. There will be a physiotherapist at the hospital who can help you decide how much exercise you can do without getting too tired.

Updated April 2018, next review due 2021.