Late effects: Diet & physical activity
Good nutrition and regular exercise offer many benefits to transplant patients.
The benefits include:
- Building strength and endurance
- Reducing the risk of certain types of diseases
- Decreasing stress and providing a feeling of wellbeing
Impact of treatment on nutrition and physical activity
The effects of having a transplant on nutrition and physical activity will be different for each person.
Some people may have difficulty gaining weight, while others may have problems with gaining too much weight. Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining a healthy body weight. There are many factors that can influence a person’s ability to be physically active; however, having had a stem cell transplant should not be used as an excuse for not eating a healthy diet or staying physically active.
Many people have poor health habits. Now is a good time to begin making healthy choices about diet and exercise. These choices can have a positive effect on your health for many years to come.
Developing a healthy eating plan
Suggestions for a healthy diet include:
- Choose a variety of foods from all the food groups
- Eat five or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables each day
- Limit refined carbohydrates, including pastries, biscuits, soft drinks and sugars
- Eat less fat and more fibre
- Limit fried and fatty foods, such as french fries, chips, cheeseburgers and pizza
- Choose wholegrain cereal products (such as wholemeal bread and brown rice), instead of processed foods like white bread and white rice
- Limit intake of red meat and substitute fish, poultry, or beans
- When you eat meat, select leaner and smaller portions
- Drink two or more litres of water every day
- Limit alcoholic drinks to less than two standard drinks a day for men and one for women
- Read food labels and learn what a portion or serving size is, so you don't overeat
If you need to lose weight, consult with your doctor and a dietitian to develop an eating plan. Discuss whether herbal or dietary supplements should be used and if they are truly healthy.
Is your eating plan effective?
There are several questions you should ask yourself to make sure your eating plan will be effective:
- Do you have a realistic, achievable weight goal?
- Does your plan include foods that you will enjoy eating for the rest of your life, not just a few weeks or months?
- Does your plan include a variety of foods?
- Are foods on your plan easily available at your supermarket?
- Does your plan fit into your lifestyle and budget?
- Does your plan also include lifestyle changes that will help you maintain your weight loss?
- Would you benefit from a weight loss support group?
Developing a healthy exercise plan
Check with your doctor before starting an exercise plan or taking part in new sports and recreational activities. Your doctor can make you aware of the activities that you can safely take part in and those you should avoid.
Choosing an exercise plan
When choosing an exercise plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have reasonable goals based on your present strength and endurance?
- Is the activity safe for you to perform?
- Does the plan fit into your lifestyle and schedule?
- Does the activity require special equipment or protective gear and will your budget cover the expense?
- Do you need to make changes in the sport or activity based on a special need?
- Do you enjoy doing the sport or activity?
Implementing your plan
Here are a few helpful suggestions when implementing your exercise plan:
- Start out slow - don’t try activities that are too strenuous or put you at risk for muscle strain
- Begin your exercise with a warm-up program and end with a cool-down activity, such as stretching and slow easy movements
- Use correct posture when exercising
- Exercise until you are tired, but not in pain
- Identify the muscles you want to strengthen and choose exercises that work on those muscles
- Alternate exercises to work different muscles and different parts of your body
- Use the right equipment and shoes to avoid injury
- Avoid running, jogging, or aerobic dancing on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete
- Increase your workout by no more than 10% per week
Moderate physical activity (brisk walking, bicycling, vacuuming, gardening) for at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is recommended.
Making physical activity a part of your routine
Here are some practical suggestions to try to work physical activity into your daily schedule:
- Park a good distance from your place of work and walk the extra distance
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- If you have a sit-down job, take a walk during your lunch or break
- Ride a bike to work or for running errands
- If you have a dog, take them on a brisk walk every day
- Plant a garden, wash your car, mow the lawn, paint furniture, clean out the garage and catch up on all those chores you have been meaning to do – instead of watching TV or playing on the computer
- Watch TV or read the newspaper while on a stationary bike or treadmill
- Plan active family outings, instead of attending a movie
- Exercise with a friend you enjoy spending time with or join a sports team
Do you have special needs?
People who have special needs can take part in most activities, but the help of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist may be needed to adapt the activity for success.