Aerobic exercise, sometimes called cardio, is designed to strengthen your heart and lungs helping them to work more efficiently and improve your endurance. Any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for prolonged periods of time is considered aerobic, like walking, swimming, cycling or jogging.

You will want to include some type of aerobic exercises in your routine, especially if your treatment has affected your heart or lungs or if you have gained extra weight.


ACSM/ACS Cancer Recommended Guidelines:



Start slowly, ideally building to 5-7 days a week


Moderately intense or vigorously intense


Start with 10 minutes a day,building to 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).


Walking, cycling, swimming. Ask your doctor for guidelines.


*What may be considered a low- or moderate-intensity activity for a healthy person may seem like a high- intensity activity for someone with cancer. This is especially true if you are new to exercise. Ask your doctor what intensity level they want you to work at.

If you worked out before cancer you may need to lower the amount and intensity of your exercise during treatments. Although this can be frustrating, it is extremely important to remember now is not the time to overdo it or train for any athletic events.

Special Considerations

  • Start out slowly, a few minutes at a time and gradually build up to 30 minutes on continued activity.
  • Be careful if you are taking blood pressure medicine that controls your heart rate. Your heart rate will not go up, but your blood pressure can get high.
  • If balance is an issue, avoid uneven surfaces.
  • Avoid swimming if you have a catheter or skin sensitivity from radiation.
  • Avoid high impact activity if at risk for fracture.