By Erika Johnson | Posted - Sep 15th, 2020





Muscles for Myeloma: Low Intensity, Long Duration Exercise

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. To celebrate the Month, the Myeloma Crowd is running a 30 day Muscles4Myeloma Fitness Challenge. Get moving, track your minutes and win prizes! 

Aerobic exercise, also known as low intensity-long duration exercise, can be underappreciated and overlooked when it comes to types of physical activity. It seems as though a great focus is put on pushing yourself during exercise to a point of extreme exhaustion.

The good news is—it doesn’t have to be this way!

There are numerous benefits to aerobic exercise, such as:

  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Deeper, more restful sleep
  • Less stress and anxiety

An important aspect of aerobic exercise is it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s state of relaxing, resting, and digesting. In contrast, high intensity workouts activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is a stress-like response to the body.

Aerobic-style training “can help decrease sympathetic drive, which helps you chill out and relax…I think most of us would benefit from some cardiac output work. Think about it — everything we do nowadays is go, go, go. We go into the gym and get after it. We stay up too late and don’t sleep enough. Our commutes, our jobs, and even our personal lives cause us inordinate amounts of stress. And all of this leads to chronic over activation of the sympathetic nervous system and stress response,” –Mike Robertson, personal trainer.

Typically, a low intensity-long duration exercise consists of 30-90 minutes long with a consistent heart rate of 120-150 beats per minute. Types of exercise could include walking, running, hiking, cycling, swimming, tai chi, rollerblading, yoga, slow rowing, elliptical workouts, jumping on the trampoline—the point is, get creative, get moving, and have fun.

An exercise program can have an aerobic foundation interweaved with high- and low-intensity activities over time can build a more resilient and better conditioned individual.

“Here’s the bottom line — if you want to be able to do things for an extended period of time, you need a strong and healthy aerobic system,” –M. Robertson


Newly diagnosed Multiple Myeloma patient James Hayman recently finished his first 5k since having surgery on his hip and right femur from fractures related to his Myeloma. James wasn't always a walker but back in 2018 he wanted to gain his health back and started alternating long slow walks as well as short speedy walks in his daily routine. He lost 60 lbs during his journey of adding a variety of intensity to his schedule. Since his diagnosis he hasn't been able to get out as much, having a 5k on the schedule was a great motivation and the start of his journey back to walking regularly. 

James says:

"it's not always pain free and I'm often tired, but I'm determined to do it."

James is strong, and resilient with his wonderful wife Melinda by his side. 



:Thanks to our Muscles for Myeloma sponsors

Sanofi         Adaptive Technologies.       



Erika Johnson
About the Author

Erika Johnson - Myeloma Crowd Editorial Contributor, Nursing student, and cancer advocate.


Add a Comment

Amy - I completely agree with this great article. I was diagnosed 6 years ago when I was 41. I walk almost every day and it has huge benefits.



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