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Can You Exercise With Multiple Myeloma & What Exercises Are Better?

In cancerous cells, there will be decreased supply of oxygen which acts as a seeding for growth and multiplication of cells. In such areas there will be faster multiplication of cells due to irregular formation of blood vessels. Low amount of oxygen in the bone-marrow promote movement and spread of multiple myeloma. The hypoxic condition makes the supply of chemotherapy chemicals or radiation therapy difficult to reach multiple myeloma. Decreased oxygen supply also results in metastatic form of the disease. Exercise improves blood circulation and hence supply of oxygen to the cancer cells, preventing its multiplication and spread. The hypoxic condition decreases the survival rate of patients; this is very true in cases of solid tumors and is applicable for blood cancer also.

Can You Exercise With Multiple Myeloma?

A high-oxygen breathing capacity exercise significantly improves oxygen supply to the blood. American Cancer Society has allotted grants to determine the duration and type of exercise to be performed to improve the hypoxic condition and increase the effectiveness of treatment. Exercise should be performed in limits; over-exercise (for long duration or high intensity) can be bad for health. (1)

The American Cancer Society recommends exercise for patients suffering from cancer and cancer survivors to improve emotional and physical side effects of chemotherapy. (2)

Patients suffering from multiple myeloma should perform exercise thrice a week. The exercises should not be performed daily as this may tire the body and increase discomfort. Do not perform exercises all in at once. The intensity of exercise should be increased gradually. It is important to learn the correct technique to avoid strain muscles and injury. If the pain occurs beyond a certain limit, stop performing the procedure. (3)

Regular exercise can help in improving the strength and stamina. The symptoms of improvement can be seen within couple of weeks. The exercise should be performed as per the guidance by the trainer. The number of repetitions should be increased gradually depending upon the strength and balance. (4)

What Exercises Are Better For Multiple Myeloma?

Things to consider before opting for exercise program:

  • Avoid places which can increase the risk of infection. The body is already deficient in white blood cells due to disease and also side-effects of treatment. Public gyms and swimming pools should not be used.
  • Do not walk on uneven ground as it increases the risk of falling. Patients suffering from multiple myeloma may have peripheral neuropathy which makes balancing difficult due to numbness
  • Do not use heavy weights
  • Use well-fitted shoes, trousers and skirts to decrease the risk of falling
  • Do not over exert yourself, stop performing exercise if you find it difficult to breath or feel pain
  • While exercise technique is important, keep your weight well-balanced, body straight to avoid aches and pains

Upward reach balance exercise, one legged flamingo, Heel-toe tandem stance, tip-toe walking should be performed to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. These exercises should be performed with or without support depending upon the patient’s condition.

Shoulder shrugs, leg curls, leg extensions, wall push-ups, calf stretch, ankle stretch, shoulder stretch and neck stretch, etc are performed to increase the strength. These exercises increases muscle strength to perform day-today activities such as walking, climbing stairs, etc.

Upper back strength and seated leg press exercises are performed using resistance exercise band or a belt. These exercises improve stamina and helps in improving walking, climbing stairs and getting in and out of bed.


Cancerous cells are hypoxic which causes higher multiplication rate and spread of these cells. Exercise increases the oxygen supply and along with radiation and chemotherapy, it is helpful in treating multiple myeloma. Listen to your body and perform exercise in limits. It is advised to gradually increase the intensity of exercise to avoid adverse impact on the body. The exercises are aimed at improving the treatment outcome, provide strength and balance to prevent falls and perform daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of the bed.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14710804
  2. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/after-treatment/follow-up.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4663409/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26633247

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 23, 2019

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