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Exercise Benefits are More Than Just Cardiovascular (and Can Protect Against COVID-19)
Posted: Sep 29, 2020
Exercise Benefits are More Than Just Cardiovascular (and Can Protect Against COVID-19) image

Over 700 Multiple Myeloma patients have joined together for the month of September in support of each other through physical activity. All patients and caregivers participated in various activities such as paddle boarding, hiking, walking, biking, swimming, running, and yoga. 

The benefit of this challenge and including 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise helps improve not only physical, mental health but can be a defense against respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and pneumonia. Regular cardiovascular exercise can help avoid health issues caused by sedentary behavior and can help keep strength to perform daily tasks. It’s been stated in an article by AARP "One of the first things that happens with COVID is that you get short of breath and your oxygen saturation begins to fall,” says Raymond Casciari, a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. “The better condition your lungs are in, the better off you will be."

To get your lungs in better shape the best thing you can do is good old exercise. Getting your heart rate up, pushing your lungs and getting you to breath harder and faster is the best way to build lung capacity and strength. Adding yoga and meditation to your regular routine of cardio is great to help calm your breathing, lower your heart rate and combat stress. 

Foremost it’s important to pick activities that increase your breathing and build intensity leaving you feeling breathless, whether it's swimming, biking or walking briskly. Many are worried and anxious about being breathless but it’s important to listen to your body but be ok with pushing yourself even if it's a burst of increasing speed. Push yourself to strengthen your defenses. 

Aerobic exercise (cardiovascular) can help lessen the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks, it is important to consult your doctor, but can help strengthen lung function and capacity allowing you to see a reduction in severe symptoms. 

Regular exercise increases certain antibodies in the blood called immunoglobulins which ultimately strengthen the immune system, as well as helps your body fight against stress levels keeping your immune system fighting strong. 

If you or a loved one are bedridden or can’t regularly get cardiovascular exercise there are some helpful breathing exercises you can still do to find benefit.

Slowly take in a big, deep breath through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs, and hold it there for a few seconds. Exhale fully. Repeat a few times, and then force yourself to cough, so you bring up any secretions. (Make sure you wear a mask if there are people nearby.) 


Quotes from some of our Muscles 4 Myeloma September Challenge participants: 

“I wasn’t going to walk tonight, but remembered the challenge and got up and walked. Pushed myself from 20 to 30 minutes because all of you are inspiring” 

“This group is so inspiring for me. Two years ago I was diagnosed and in a wheelchair… today I am riding my recumbent bike and walking without a cane.” 

“I’m thankful for the accountability to keep moving. I appreciate all of you. We are stronger together” 

“Thank you to our sponsors and fellow MM warriors. This is inspiring. Now we need to continue our exercise battle to win the war!”

“Thank you so much for this challenge and for this connection with others with some form of this horrific cancer. We are strong together and need to believe that someday soon there will be a cure for this cancer!”

Thanks to our Muscles for Myeloma sponsors:

Sanofi         Adaptive Technologies.       

The author Linnley Sweeney

about the author
Linnley Sweeney

Linnley joined the HealthTree Foundation in January 2020 as the Fitness Events Manager. Her husband is a childhood cancer survivor as well as a cancer biologist. Finding a cure, better treatments, and balance through treatments is what drives their family. Linnley is an Advanced Cancer Exercise Specialist and focuses on finding what you can do rather than can't.

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