Background and objective Exercise can improve circulation, muscular strength and happiness of cancer survivors. But more data were needed to demonstrate both the exercise ability of cancer suivivors after pulmonary lobectomy and the influences of exercise on their survivals. The aim of this study was to examine changes of exercise and its clinical effects among eldly non-small cell lung cancer survivors. Methods Elderly non-small cell lung cancer survivors who had progression-free disease after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or tyrosine kinase inhibitors were included. Their exercises and participation rates per week before cancer diagnosis, after 3 months anticancer therapy and 1 year after diagnosis as well as their exercise motivations and prevalences were investigated retrospectively. Results Forty-eight elderly non-small cell lung cancer survivors were selected. Moderate-vigorous intensity exercise had by the elderly progressin-free non-small cell lung cancer survivors after diagnosis decreased, but the participation rate of light intensity exercise was higher in 1 year after diagnosis than before diagnosis. 75.9% (14/58) patients had exercise up to the standard and the cancer recurrence rate was 20.0% (7/35). The recurrence rate of the other group was 35.7% (5/14), and the risk ratio of recurrence was 2.14 (95%CI: 0.81-5.68, P=0.26). The most common motivations of exercise were improving health, increasing physical activity, maintaining healthy life style and improving immunity. And the main disturbances were fatigue, discomfort and lack of motivation. Conclusion The exercise participation rate during anticancer treatment among the elderly non-small cell lung cancer survivors decreased and did not return to prediagnosis levels after treatments were completed. The relationship between exercise and recurrence of cancer was not clear and needed further work.