Staying Fit During Multiple Myeloma Remission

What you need to know about working out and staying fit during multiple myeloma remission.

senior black man exercising, elderly man lifting dumbells

Exercise brings with it many benefits that are helpful for people with multiple myeloma or in remission. At the top of that list: Exercise's ability to reduce fatigue and boost energy. Many of the treatments for cancer have fatigue as a side effect, including both chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, two common treatment techniques for multiple myeloma. Often, this fatigue become chronic, continuing to have an impact even when treatment is complete.

While there isn't a lot of research available into the specific effects of exercise on people with multiple myeloma (as opposed to cancer in general), it's hard to argue that exercising during multiple myeloma isn't helpful. After all, as well as helping to counteract symptoms and side effects, exercise also helps with overall health and energy levels and has a powerful impact on mental health.

Consult your doctor first

You should always speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new fitness routine. That’s particularly true for people with multiple myeloma, which is a cancer that affects bone strength.  Be aware that your fitness levels may have changed: Before your cancer diagnosis, you might have been a marathoner or dutifully worked out several times a week, but during treatment, your activity levels likely dropped. Make sure to ease back into your fitness routine cautiously.

Choose your workout wisely

Your fitness routine should take into account your bone health. Some high-impact workouts—such as running—can have an impact on the spine, which is often weakened and fragile due to multiple myeloma. Be particulaly aware of any fractured bones when divising your workout regiment. The weight-bearing exercises that are typically used to improve bone strength have the potential to increase the risk of fractures for people with multiple myeloma who have weakened bones.

Low impact workouts, such as yoga or a daily walk, are often a good starting point for people in remission from multiple myeloma, as are simple stretches and exercises with light resistance bands. Make sure to avoid walking in areas with uneven ground, or any place where the chances of slipping and falling are heightened. If you are considered at a high risk for infection—this is particularly common after a stem cell transplant, or if your white blood cell count is low—avoid public gyms, which can be a nexus of germs. (Swimming pools and oceans are also best avoided if you’re at a high risk for infection.)

Listen to your body

It’s true for everyone, but especially for people with multiple myeloma: Pay attention to your body when working out. If something hurts, stop. Avoid overexertion and work with a physical therapist or experience personal trainer to make sure your stance is correct, and that your form is not putting undue stress on your body.

Article sources open article sources

Coon SK and Coleman EA. “Exercise Decisions Within the Context of Multiple Myeloma, Transplant, and Fatigue.” Cancer Nursing. 2004;27(2).
American Cancer Society. “Living as a Multiple Myeloma Survivor.” February 28, 2018. Accessed April 5, 2022.
Myeloma UK. Exercises for myeloma patients Infosheet.” April 2020. Accessed April 5, 2022.
Rome SI, Jenkins BS, and Lilleby KE. “Mobility and Safety in the Multiple Myeloma Survivor.” Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2011. Supplement to Volume 15, Number 4.
American Cancer Society. “Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer.” March 16, 2022. Accessed April 5, 2022.

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