Aerobic exercise is simply any exercise which increases your rate of breathing and the flow of blood to your heart. The term “aerobic” is used because, as anyone who has done aerobics can tell you, such activity causes your breathing to become deeper and faster. Since it is blood which carries oxygen, as well as other nutrients vital to health and healing throughout your body, aerobic exercise is an invaluable tool when preventing, treating or surviving cancer. Moreover, in addition to strengthening the heart and lungs, aerobic exercise also helps build muscle. Other benefits of regular aerobic activity include increased energy, more restful sleep, improved mood and a reduced risk of conditions which can further complicate cancer recovery such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Always consult with your doctor before beginning an aerobic exercise program. Once you have your doctor’s advice, have fun with the variety of aerobic exercise options available to you; aerobic fitness can be achieved through many activities which range from simply walking around your block to scaling Mount Everest. Many activities which children find fun count as aerobic activities; so, go for a swim in the lake or clear the cobwebs from that bike in your basement. If you’re the “get it done and move on” type, then feel free to opt for a more conventional form of aerobic exercise such as walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine at the gym.
No matter which form of aerobic exercise you choose, be sure to begin slowly and gradually increase your activity level. Often, a certified personal trainer can help you safely increase your activity levels to maximize your progress. When combined with good nutrition, mind-body techniques and any prescribed treatments, aerobic exercise can greatly enhance your treatment course and years as a cancer survivor.