From the Desk of Dr. Len
Exercise to Fight Cancer and Other Health Challenges
Dr. Len Lopez – Wednesday, July 30, 2014
One of the best ways to fight cancer is to exercise! Not just any type of exercise, because the wrong type of exercise, based on your current level of health and fitness could weaken your immune system, which is counter-productive to your battle with cancer.
A major reason aerobic exercise is helpful for anyone struggling with cancer, is that cancer cells thrive in an anaerobic environment. They don’t like oxygen! So the more aerobic, cardio training you do – the more of an aerobic environment you create at the tissue level, which makes it harder for cancer cells to thrive.
Not Just Any Type of Exercise
Exercise is a double edge sword. As beneficial as weight training, resistance and interval training are – they are stressful on your body. Not only that, they don’t promote more aerobic metabolism. This is important, because at this time of your life, you want to be increasing your aerobic capacity, and make it less hospitable for cancer cells, as well as, viral, bacterial and parasitic cells.
This is why easy aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, dancing, swimming, etc are so beneficial for building up our aerobic capacity. But you have to make sure you are triggering aerobic metabolism! What you want is easy, low intensity exercise for 30-60 minutes to help increase your aerobic capacity. The fact that it is low intensity – it is stress reducing – which is a good thing during this time of your life.
Most people need to keep their heart rate, which is the best measurement to determine intensity, around or below 60-70% of their maximum heart rate as they walk, bike, etc. The problem is that so many of the people I have worked with assume that they can train at 80-85% of their maximum heart rate and still be aerobic.
That’s Not the Case. Only well conditioned, elite marathoners and tri-athletes can train at 80-85% of the max heart rate and still be activating their Aerobic system. All of those who train at 80-85% of their heart rate, and aren’t an elite, endurance athlete are more than likely activating their Anaerobic Metabolism.
The problem with anaerobic metabolism is that it tells us that you are enduring a stressful physical event, which is going to increase your stress hormones, as well as, your lactic acid levels. This will make your body both more acidic and anaerobic, which is not what you want if you are fighting cancer.
So until you overcome this health dilemma, you might have to re-evaluate your current workout routine or start a workout routine to help increase your aerobic capacity.
As I said, I’m a big fan of all types of anaerobic training, but during this time of your life, you need to make sure you train and diet smarter – not harder or longer. Exercise is a double edge sword and many of the fitness junkies I have worked with have a hard time curtailing their workouts when they are hit with a major health challenge. But you have to remember, what makes us susceptible is a weakened immune system. Too much intense exercise, not simply over-training, could be over-stressing your body and making your immune system vulnerable, which is why it is a good idea to take the Stress Testto see if you may be over-working an already depleted and exhausted body.