Types of exercise

Exercise is one important type of physical activity. It's a planned, structured and specific movement that improves your fitness.

For example, some people jog for exercise. This means they jog a few times a week at a challenging pace. This makes their heart, lungs and muscles stronger.

Exercise can be done:

  • at a gym, a community centre, at home or outdoors

  • with a group of friends or alone

  • with or without special equipment

Exercise can be safe during and after prostate cancer treatment. All physical activity is good for your health, and getting more planned exercise in your life adds even more benefits.

What are the main
types of exercise?

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is a movement that uses large muscle groups in a pattern. It can be carried on for at least 10 minutes at a time and gets the heart and lungs to work harder than when you're resting.

Why should I do it?

Aerobic exercise can help with:

  • improved heart and lung health

  • weight management

  • lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer

  • healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels

  • improved mood (less anxiety and depression)

Benefits of aerobic exercise for men with prostate cancer include:

  • less weight gain for men on hormone therapy

  • lower fatigue or extreme tiredness in men going through radiation therapy (radiotherapy) or on hormone therapy

  • decreased blood pressure in men with (or at risk of) heart disease from hormone therapy

  • better quality of life across all stages of cancer and all types of treatment

Regular aerobic exercise may decrease the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

How can I get started?

Add aerobic exercise to your routine with these 3 steps:

  • Begin with a 10-minute walk, 2 to 3 days per week, for 3 to 4 weeks.

  • After 3 or 4 weeks, add 1 to 2 minutes to your walk every week.

  • Continue adding minutes until you are up to 30 minutes, 3 days per week.

Examples of aerobic exercise

  • walking

  • running

  • biking

  • dancing

  • swimming

  • hiking

  • working out on the elliptical or stair climbing machine at the gym

Resistance exercise

Resistance exercise means moving your muscles against some type of weight.
It can be done using dumbbells and barbells, weight machines in a gym, elastic bands, or even your own body weight.

Why should I do it?

The goal of resistance exercise is to improve your muscle strength and your endurance. Resistance exercise helps avoid muscle and bone loss with age. It can also help lower body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Improving muscle strength and keeping your bones strong:

  • makes day-to-day activities easier to do - such as lifting or moving heavy loads like furniture or getting yourself out of a chair

  • decreases risk of falls and bone fractures

Improving endurance can help you:

  • bring in several loads of shopping

  • dig in the garden

For men with prostate cancer, resistance exercise can:

  • lower fatigue and feelings of tiredness

  • increase quality of life for men going through radiation therapy

  • improve sexual function

For men on hormone therapy, resistance training can be helpful to ease the symptoms you’re experiencing. Hormone therapy can weaken bones and muscles, cause weight gain, and decrease heart health, but resistance training helps:

  • slow bone loss

  • increase muscle size

  • stop gain of body fat

  • lower insulin levels in the blood

  • improve physical function and movement making cleaning, bathing, and getting dressed easier

How can I get started?

A simple way to add resistance exercise to your routine follows these 3 steps:

  • First, think of 3 exercises that use your body weight. For example, getting up from a chair without using your arms and sitting back down, raising your heels off the ground, and doing push-ups against a wall.

  • Do these 3 moves 3 days per week. Start with 5 repetitions per exercise.

  • Add a repetition every week until you reach 15 repetitions.

For a workout that uses weights, you can figure out the right amount of weight to lift when you find a weight that is:

  • light enough that you can lift it the minimum number of repetitions

  • heavy enough that you cannot go beyond the maximum number of repetitions and keep good form

Remember: as you get stronger, you may need to increase the weight you lift to stay in the right range of repetitions and get the most benefits

Examples of resistance exercise

To improve your muscle strength - lift heavier weights (using dumbbells, barbells or a weight machine) a few times, about 6 to 8 repetitions.

To improve your endurance - lift lighter weights many times (about 10 to 15 repetitions).

Flexibility exercise

Flexibility exercise stretches a muscle or group of muscles by creating a slight pull on the muscle and tendons (where your muscle attaches to your bone). This helps increase your range of motion.

Why should I do it?

Stretching your muscles helps them stay loose and avoid getting stiff. This allows your joints (where two bones come together) to move more easily. Regular stretching makes you more flexible and it’s great for everyone, including older adults.

You’ll have:

  • improved movement, making day-to-day activities easier

  • steadier walking

  • less tension and stress

  • better sleep

How can I get started?

Start by stretching for 15 minutes in the morning, 3 times a week. Stretch each of these muscle for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat 2 more times:

  • shoulders

  • back of the arms

  • chest

  • back

  • hips

  • thighs

  • calves

  • ankles

Examples of flexibility exercise

  • stretching at home

  • yoga

Other types of exercise

What are they?

There are many other forms of exercise that you may be interested in learning about. Here are just a few examples:

  • Yoga

  • Tai Chi

  • Qigong

These other forms of exercise often include aerobic, resistance, and flexibility movements. Some people prefer these forms because they're done with music or put together in an interesting way. They often add elements like:

  • deep breathing

  • mindfulness and paying attention to your thoughts

  • graceful movements

Yoga is a holistic program that can involve:

  • breathing

  • stretching

  • posture

  • meditation

Yoga improves mobility, mood and well-being. Many types of yoga are safe and effective for older adults, like vinyasa and restorative yoga.

Tai Chi is a martial arts form that has been used for centuries. Tai Chi:

  • is a series of flowing, controlled movements and breathing that are performed in order

  • involves moving slowly and smoothly from one move to the next

  • focuses on moving the body around and past its centre of gravity

  • improves focus and connects breathing and posture changes

Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care practice that combines:

  • physical postures

  • breathing techniques

  • focused intention

Why do these types of exercises?

Studies of these exercises show benefits for people with prostate cancer.

These benefits include:

  • improved energy and less fatigue

  • improved quality of life

  • better balance and function

These types of exercise can be a good way to ease into regular activity. Or, you can add them to a program of aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises.

How can I get started?

If you look online, you can find classes for these exercises in your area.

Check with your doctor or care team to understand what activities and exercises you can take part in. Talk with the exercise instructor to make sure the class is safe and a good fit for you. Let the instructor know about anything that might make exercise hard for you.

A good instructor will listen and should be able to make changes if needed. Or, they can point you to a program that's better for you.

Additional Resources

Tips for getting more active

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Types of exercise, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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