After a stem cell transplant, keeping active can help you physically and emotionally. It’s particularly useful in helping to reduce side effects like fatigue, and problems with joints and muscles.
Try to start small, and build up as you’re recovering.
It’s normally OK to start doing some exercises while you’re still in hospital or recovering at home, but check with your transplant team or physiotherapist if you’re not sure. Everyone will have had different levels of fitness before the transplant, but it’s normally a good idea to start small – it can be tricky if you haven’t done much for a while.
Break it down into chunks, aim for 10-20 minutes a day, but spread it out into bursts of 3-5 minutes.
Try our one-minute exercises for a gentle way to keep active.
'As part of my recovery I was receiving some physiotherapy, and those daily exercises helped get some movement back into my routine.'
Ashling had a transplant in 2012
Read Ashling’s blog about her experience of exercise after a transplant.
If you’re recovering well, it’s generally safe to do light or moderate exercise. If you’re feeling unwell or still need to go to hospital for problems related to your transplant, or you have other health problems, speak to a physiotherapist about what’s safe for you to do.
Speak to your doctor and avoid exercise if you have any of the following:
Pick an exercise and repeat it at a steady pace for one minute, a few times a day. For more exercises read our booklet, Managing Fatigue After a Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant.
Start by lying on your back
Ankle bends – point your toes up to the ceiling, then straighten your ankles and point your toes away from you. Keep your knees straight to stretch your calf muscles.
Leg raises – lift up one knee so your foot is flat on the bed. Keep the other leg straight, toes pointing towards the ceiling, and lift it up about six inches, hold for five seconds, and lower it down. Repeat on both sides.
Start by sitting in a chair or bed
Leg strengthening – starting with both feet flat on the floor, straighten one knee slowly and smoothly to lift your foot up, then lower it back down. Repeat on both sides.
Tricep lifts – hold a bottle above your head with your arm straight. Bend your elbow and slowly lower the bottle towards your shoulder, behind your head, keeping your elbow high. Then straighten your arm again. Repeat on both sides. (You can also do this from standing.)
‘Whether you’re in hospital or continuing your recovery at home, it’s generally good to be as active as you can at that time – not just for your physical health, but for your overall wellbeing, too.’
Read our blog about keeping active with Claire, a specialist physiotherapist
Types of exercise
Download or order our booklet Life After Transplant: An Essential Guide to Diet and Physical Activity for more ideas.