Why exercise is important

Exercise has many general benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing. It can:

  • improve physical function
  • strengthen muscles and bones
  • improve circulation
  • help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight
  • boost your energy levels
  • improve your mobility and balance
  • enhance self-esteem
  • help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression
  • offer new ways to meet people and socialise
  • reduce the risk of, or help manage, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

Learn more about:

What is exercise?

Physical activity is a broad term that covers any activity that moves your body and speeds up your breathing and heartbeat. This can include exercise, which is structured physical activity that aims to improve health and fitness. It can include both exercise sessions and everyday activities such as housework.

Types of exercise

Exercise can be grouped into three main categories:

Aerobic exercisesuse large muscle groups and cause your heart rate to rise. Aerobic exercise increases your capacity to use oxygen, which improves heart and lung fitness. With time, strenuous tasks become easier.

Strength traininginvolves making your muscles work harder than usual against some sort of resistance. Strength training is also known as resistance training or weight training.

Flexibility exercisesstretch your muscles and help improve your range of motion.

How active should we be?

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults outline what types of exercise to do and how often to exercise. They are based on scientific evidence supporting the connection between physical activity, wellbeing, disease prevention and quality of life. The guidelines recommend that you should:

  • move more and sit less
  • aim to be active on most, preferably all, days of the week
  • get a total of 2½ to 5 hours (150 to 300 minutes) of moderate intensity exercise or 1¼ to 2½ hours (75 to 150 minutes) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities throughout a week
  • do 2–3 strength-training (resistance) sessions a week
  • break up long periods of sitting as often as you can.

For more information about the guidelines, see health.gov.au and search for “physical activity”.

Along with exercise, eating well has many benefits for health and wellbeing. See a dietitian or go to Nutrition and cancer.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on exercise for people living with cancer.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2019
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Life after cancer treatment
Programs and support for people who have finished treatment

ENRICH – a free healthy lifestyle program
A face-to-face exercise and nutrition program for cancer survivors

Cancer information

Nutrition and cancer
How to eat well during and after cancer treatment

Staying healthy after treatment
Lifestyle changes that can help keep you in good health

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends