Staying healthy

Looking to make a change and get healthy?

Kickstart your health Stopping smoking Drink less alcohol Exercise and staying active Eating a balanced diet Eat well online support group Mindfulness Sun safety

Did you know that if you live in North Devon you can access a health coach? They can support you to achieve manageable health goals. Working with a health coach can help you take back control of your own health, in your own time, on your own terms.

To get started you will be asked to complete an online assessment which gives the health coach an idea of your current health and wellbeing. You can meet face to face or over the telephone to discuss your needs and make a personal plan that is designed to help you take the first steps to a happier you.

If you would like to talk to someone about this service and its benefits to you, please contact One Small Step on 01392 908 139 or use the online chat to talk to one of the team.

Kickstart your health

Your health matters. There has never been a better time to kickstart your health. Better Health has a range of tools and support to help – find what works for you. There is a free app with a 12 week diet and exercise plan. There are also special offers for Weight Watchers and Slimming World. For more information see the NHS better health website

Stopping smoking

no smokingStopping smoking and reducing exposure to passive smoking is the most effective way of reducing the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart and respiratory problems. Smoking can also affect your mental health with anxiety and depression more common in long term smokers.

The 4,000 chemicals in smoke also damage the skin, teeth, the immune system and put extra stress on the body during cancer treatment. If you continue to smoke during radiotherapy and chemotherapy it makes those treatments less effective and increases side effects, such as nausea, chest infection and mouth soreness.

Research has shown across a range of cancers that Going Smoke Free will help improve fatigue levels, sleep, pain, nausea, help with treatment recovery and reduce the risk of developing new cancers.

  • One Small Step
  • NHS One You – provides tips, tools, support and encouragement every step of the way, to help improve your health right away.
  • Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044

A short film by Cancer Research UK:

Drink less alcohol

Worried that you might be drinking too much?  The short and long term effects of alcohol can affect your body, lifestyle and mental health. Armed with the facts you can make an informed choice about your drinking. Please visit the websites below for facts, useful information and advice on how to help you manage your alcohol consumption.

Exercise and staying active

Why exercise?

Exercise and staying active have been shown to be major factors in maintaining patient’s health and positive cancer outcomes after treatment.

In the past, during treatment, doctors used to advise people to rest as much as possible: this has changed!

Evidence shows that simple physical activity can reduce many of the side effects of the treatment and also the risk of recurrence in some cancers.

Being active during and after treatment can:

  • Reduce tiredness/fatigue
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Help look after your heart and bones
  • Help keep your weight healthy
  • Improve sleep patterns

Any amount of exercise is better than none at all. You can be active by simple, day to day activities such as walking, or by using more structured exercise programmes that you might do at home or in the gym.

There is no single activity that is best for everyone. Choose an activity you enjoy, and that fits in with your life and level of fitness.

Being active can help counteract some of tiredness and other side-effects of certain treatments. It can also improve your mood and mind-set regarding your cancer.

We actively encourage patients to take opportunities to be active and will offer advice if any modification is needed to help you stay active.

For more information from Macmillan about keeping active please click HERE

Free remote exercise service

SafeFit is a free remote service for anyone in the UK with suspicion of or confirmed cancer diagnosis of cancer. It is a collaboration of many agencies, including Macmillan and the NHS, and more information can be found by clicking on the link to the Macmillan website.  It is recommended that you have a quick look at what is all about before committing yourself to something that might be for you at this moment in time. It is a brilliant opportunity but you need to be up to the challenge!

To be able to participate you will need to fit the criteria listed below and you are not able to refer someone else to the service. To get started you will need to fill in a short self-referral form. Once you have completed the self-referral form  and submitted it you will be put in  contact with a cancer exercise specialist who will help you during the coronavirus (COVID-19)crisis.

You can use this service if you:

  • Are aged over 18
  • Would like help and support changing some aspects of your lifestyle
  • Want to work towards changing your physical activity and diet
  • Want to improve your overall wellbeing
  • Are willing to commit some of your time to work with a cancer exercise specialist
  • Are willing to commit to a number of sessions as agreed between you and your cancer exercise specialist

If you have any questions regarding SafeFit then please contact

Eating a balanced diet

During these times you may need to change the balance of your diet to include different foods. It may also be helpful to alter when or how often you eat to make sure you try to eat enough. These may be short-term or long-term changes depending on your treatment and health. Please talk to your key worker or Clinical Nurse Specialist about any problems you are experiencing with your diet during your treatment and also when you have finished if you have ongoing issues.

Please follow the link to Link to NDHT Nutrition and Dietetics

Eat well online support group

Free group sessions with an oncologist dietician covering how you can eat well during cancer and tailored advice on what you can eat to help you with some of the side-effects you might be experiencing. You will also receive a digital pack of resources to take away. For more information on how to join visit the World Cancer Research Fund website


What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) – without judging anything. It has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don’t have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it.

It aims to help you:

  • become more self-aware
  • feel calmer and less stressed
  • feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
  • cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
  • be kinder towards yourself.

Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. For further information on how mindfulness can help you and ways to practice it please visit

There is a useful resource produced by   that can be printed and used for reference as it explains the principles and techniques of practising mindfulness. Please click HERE.

Sun safety

We all enjoy sunny day and need some sun to help our bodies make Vitamin D, but it is important to enjoy the sun safely and know how to protect your skin. In the UK the UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3 pm from early April and late September. During this time the sun may be strong enough to cause damage so take care to protect your skin especially if you get sunburnt easily.

Here are some facts about staying out in the sunshine:

  • Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage DNA in your skin cells and cause skin cancer.
  • In the UK almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, could be prevented through enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunbeds.
  • Getting sunburnt just once every 2 years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

3  things that you can do to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays are:

  • Spend time in the shade especially between 11am and 3pm in the UK
  • Cover up with clothes, wide brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses
  • Use a sunscreen with at least SPF30 and 4 or 5 stars. Apply generously and re-apply regularly

For more information please visit NHS Choices to find out about SPF and star ratings on suncreams.

Keep an eye out for changes to your skin. Changes to check for include:

  • A new mole,growth or lump
  • Any moles, freckles or patches of skin that change in size, shape or colour

Report these to your doctor as soon as possible. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it is found early.

Last updated: August 14, 2020