How much physical activity should a childhood cancer survivor be getting?

The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association recommend:

Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 should get:

  • Three hours of active play per day
  • Replace sitting activities with play

Kids and teens ages 6 to 17 should get:

  • 60 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Vigorous activity at least three days per week
  • Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least three days per week

Adults ages 18 and older should get:

  • 150 minutes each week (30 minutes, five days each week) of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of both
  • Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least two days each week
  • Spend less time sitting

How is physical activity defined?

There are many different forms of exercise, but most physical activities fall into one of three different categories.

Moderate activity

Moderate activity is defined as activities that make your heart beat a bit faster and you breathe a bit harder.

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Tennis
  • Slow bike riding

Vigorous activity

Vigorous activity pushes your body a little harder and requires more effort. You’ll probably get warm and begin to sweat.

  • Hiking uphill
  • Running
  • Swimming laps
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Cycling fast
  • Jump rope

Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities

These activities are a great addition to any exercise plan or workout, especially when combined with moderate or vigorous activities.

  • Light weights
  • Resistance training

Why is physical activity important for good heath?

We all know that physical activity and exercise is good for our health, but research has shown that adult survivors of childhood cancer who get regular vigorous exercise have better long-term health and live longer than those who don’t.

Active kids, teens and young adults have better:

  • Quality of life
  • Heart health
  • Lung health
  • Bone health
  • Attention and memory
  • School performance
  • Sleep

And active kids, teens and young adults have less:

  • Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Tips for physical activity

  • Start out slow and don’t try activities that are too hard or not interesting
  • Pick activities you like
  • Find a friend or family member to do activities with
  • Alternate exercises to work different muscles
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walk down the hall or march in place when a commercial comes on TV
  • Turn the screen into an exercise machine by watching exercise or activity videos
  • Take a brain break before homework to help with focus
  • Remember that some physical activity is better than none

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