A cancer survivor’s guide to exercise and heart rate

As a cancer survivor, you know that exercise is one of the key factors in lowering your risk of cancer recurrence. But how do you know if you’re exercising enough — or hard enough? That part is trickier. And that’s where your heart rate comes in. Your heart rate indicates how quickly your heart is pumping blood – in other words, how hard it’s working. Knowing your heart rate can help you determine if you need to back off to make sure you’re staying safe or if you need to increase the intensity to truly gain the benefits of exercise. It’s possible your doctor may want you to limit certain exercises, so be sure to discuss any workout routine before you start. The American Institute for Cancer Research and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Your heart rate is one way to determine if the exercise you’re doing is vigorous or not. We talked with Whittney Thoman, exercise physiologist at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, to learn more about what cancer survivors need to know about heart rate and exercise. Here’s what she had to say. Learn how to determine your heart rate One way to measure this is to use a heart rate monitor. This device is typically a watch or a strap that goes around your arm or chest. If the heart rate monitor says you’re working at 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate, then the exercise is considered moderate. If the heart rate monitor shows that you’re working at...