How do I exercise following the sheltering guidelines?

John Malinowski, ATC, CET

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cancer survivors strive to get the same amount of exercise as outlined in the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Let me break this down into the two basic forms of exercise, Aerobic and Anaerobic. The National Cancer Institute defines aerobic exercises as any physical activity that increases the heart rate and the body’s use of oxygen. The recommended frequency of aerobic exercise for cancer survivors is at least 3 days per week for 30-60 minutes each session. If you are not currently meeting this amount, do what you can and progressively work up to the point where you are able to perform 30-60 minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity. 

The American College of Sports Medicine defines anaerobic exercise as intense physical activity of short duration. Resistance types of exercises whether done with weights, resistance bands or body weight should be performed 2 or 3 days a week with a day in between bouts of anaerobic exercise. Performing 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions is recommended for each exercise.

Aerobic Exercise. While many forms of aerobic exercise-like walking, swimming, and jogging-typically take place outdoors, be creative! Turn on some inspirational music and walk, dance, or jog in place. Pop in an exercise DVD or stream an online workout from a certified fitness professional. Walk up and down your stairs or march in place. If you do exercise outdoors, just remember to follow social distancing recommendations and do not exercise in groups.

Resistance Training. Resistance training can be lifting weights or isometric exercises, both of which build muscle. Many people lose muscle during cancer treatment and put on some unwanted weight after treatment. This can be minimized with resistance training. You don’t need a full gym for resistance training: Exercise bands, small dumbbells, and even canned foods can be used to add resistance to most movements. A circuit of exercises is one good way to get your resistance exercise in. I recommend starting with your large muscle groups like upper legs, back and chest first then getting the shoulders, biceps, triceps and lower legs.

If you have kids at home get them involved and make it a fun family activity! Getting in some daily exercise is good for all of us and more than just the physical aspect. Exercise can help us all burn off pent up energy and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

If you have any questions contact John Malinowski ATC,CET at 805.346.3413 with your questions.

We know that COVID-19 is affecting everyone and we want to help you deal with the situation at hand whether you’re a survivor with a compromised immune system or a caregiver.

Our monthly Discussion Groups are currently on hold, but our experienced cancer nurses are available by telephone to answer questions and assist patients to learn how to cope with symptoms and side effects. Facing such challenges can be overwhelming but this friendly and knowledgeable group can be extremely helpful.

Learn more online at or by calling (805) 219.HOPE (4673). We’re here for you.