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Physical Activity

Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2009

My husband had surgery on June 1 to remove a large part of a metastasized kidney tumor. For one month prior to this operation and until today he does minimum physical exercise. He has been going to physical therapy twice a week. Now, he is having pains in different places in his body...neck, pectoral muscles, ribs, lungs. We are going through tests to make sure that it isn't cancer causing these pains, so far so good. My question is how much should I be pushing him to walk? The back surgeon said that he should take two short walks a day. This is not happening. When we do walk a short distance, he sometimes has a hard time making it back home and is always exhausted. I feel the more he sits and sleeps around the more his body is going to give him trouble. Anyone have any ideas?


Posts: 26
Joined: Jun 2009

What is a short walk? The end of the driveway, three houses away, thru the hallway of apartment building, whatever. My idea of a short walk is from the living room to the kitchen. I am in physical therapy twice a week also, that is exhausting but I am doing fine with it thus far. The last thing I do before leaving PT is use a bicycle type machine for my arms, not legs. I was dx'd with NHL in Oct., went thru chemo, radiation and now am in PT cause NHL site was upper right arm and tumor broke arm and socket of shoulder, that's how cancer was discovered.
Encourage maybe instead of push. The fatigue is unbelievable for me. I finished chemo 4/22/09 and am in remission and still have the fatigue and shortness of breath. You are right that the more he sits around the more trouble his body will give him. On the other hand, the amount of physical movement, needs to be small, very short walks.

How about getting up and walking around living room or house during commericals on TV? How about lifting arms and/or legs from a sitting position? Perhaps he could lift his legs from the knee and back down 10 times, rest a minute or two, and again 10 times. Maybe lift arms over head. Idea is to get blood moving and some muscles working,

Is the surgeon suggesting short walks giving any indication what he considers a short walk? Will there be chemo and/or radiation treatment, is your husband on meds, is he able to eat a fairly nutritional meal a couple times a day? How is he on the days he has PT? Is he depressed? My depression hangs around like a black cloud, I fight it every day. All these things need to be considered in order to understand how much encouragement to offer. Pain is an overwhelming deteriment to physical actvity.

This is also a very difficult time for you; maybe if you continue to walk for your own benefit he will push himself to go along. Take care of yourself too.

zahalene's picture
Posts: 680
Joined: Nov 2005

buy, borrow, or steal (not recommended) a treadmill? The electric kind that runs by itself at different speeds?
That way he could walk for 5 minutes at a slow speed, rest for 30 minutes, walk 5, increase speed slightly, rest,....etc etc.
And he would already be 'home' when he got tired. He could also start out slow and build up his stamina.
Also, he could watch tv or listen to music or whatever while doing it. Sometimes walking just gives us too much time to think. There are also leg exercisers that can be 'peddled' while sitting which are inexpensive. They don't give the benefit of weight-bearing walking of course but are better than complete inertia.
Did you and he ever dance? I am talking about the old fashioned people-actually-touching-each-other slow dancing. It is one of the better types of activity that does not feel like exercise, but is actually very beneficial. And enjoyable.
God bless.

Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you Zahalene for your ideas. I especially liked the idea of dancing. We used to enjoy dancing together a lot. We will think about the treadmill. We have a nordic track but I know that won't work.


Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you Jacky for your comments. A short walk is down a block and back, perhaps 5 minutes in all. The problem is coming back since our house is on a hill. Paul started chemo last week. For kidney cancer it is in the form of a pill. Radiation and/or additional surgery might be required in the future if the tumor is resistant to the chemo. It is hard to tell if he is depressed because he is often in pain. I will suggest the exercises that you recommend. He is able to eat but does not have the same appetite as he once had. He says that food tastes differently.

Helping Paul with this disease is probably one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. Best of luck to you.


soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Hestia makes a very good point: what exactly is a walk? Imagine hubby in the hospital. What was the walk required of him then, if any?

From personal experience, a walk was first a walk around the unit, a circle, a relatively small circle, Igor contraptions in tow. I was not asked to walk a mile, or even several laps, although as you might expect, additional laps around the unit were eventually demanded.

Combine Hestia's thoughts about the length of the walk (make it manageable for him) with Zahalene's thoughts about staying in or close to home, and I think you have part of your answer: maybe make a 'course' within your home, and decide between you what constitutes a walk ... you will walk from here to the bedroom and back again five times and that will be a lap (for example).

As for demanding, I would advise (see above re hospital treatment :)) that you insist upon him doing the following: agreeing on what a lap is, agreeing on how many he will do, and then enforcing the mutual decision.

It is in his best interest, given that his pain, of course, is not from additional health problems, which is, as we must acknowledge, also a possibility.

Best wishes to hub and to you. You are going to have a tough job if he is as ornery as I was :), but it will be worth it for both of you and for all family and friends.

Take care,


Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks, Joe, for your ideas. I am so impressed with the quality of all of the ideas that I received from this posting. Paul did walk around in the hospital and tried to do many more laps than he has been doing at home. I will share these ideas with him.


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