Exercise and Breast Cancer
By Danielle Cronquist December 28 545
You might be tempted to use breast cancer as an excuse to not exercise, and that’s understandable! Treatment can leave you feeling nauseated, tired, and in pain. But, instead of breast cancer keeping you from working out, use it as your motivator. Those who include exercise in their daily life have a 25 percent lower risk of breast cancer mortality. Check out more reasons why exercise can be so beneficial for those with breast cancer and breast cancer survivors, and learn how to get started.
Exercise benefits for breast cancer
BreastCancerCare.org recommends women diagnosed with breast cancer exercise for around 150 minutes a week. That’s enough to improve your general health and also reduce your risk of breast cancer coming back or of developing other cancers in the colon, lung, uterus, or elsewhere. If you are currently being treated for breast cancer, exercise can help improve your treatment symptoms in several ways:
• Ease chemotherapy nausea
• Reduce blood clot risk by improving blood flow to legs
• Enhance sex drive
• Ease fatigue caused by radiation and/or chemo
• Reduce risk for serious side effects like weight gain, osteoporosis, and lymphedema
• Improve mental health
A study from the Tenth People’s Hospital of Tongji University in Shanghai, China analyzed 33 randomized controlled trials including 2,659 breast cancer survivors. Compared to a control group, those who regularly exercised had better mental health, emotional well-being, and social well-being.
First, get approval from your doctor to start an exercise routine. It’s okay to start small and build yourself up to the type of workouts you did pre-diagnosis, or the type of workouts you want to be doing. Focus on slow but steady progress. Be sure to include a warmup and a cool down in each of your workouts, and always pay attention to your body while exercising. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, stop. And feel free to take as many rests as you need while exercising.
Even a small amount of light activity is better than none at all. To get started, you may want to try:
For more ideas on working out with breast cancer, check out light exercises outlined by the American Cancer Society that you can even do while lying down. Don’t push yourself too much, but try new exercises and see if they improve some of your treatment symptoms.