Exercise and Breast Cancer: The Benefits and How to Get Started

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Exercise and Breast Cancer: The Benefits and How to Get Started

As a breast cancer patient or breast cancer survivor, it’s important to stay active – even if you don’t feel up to it.

A recent study by Kerry Courneya, Ph.D., found that women with breast cancer that participated in a resistance training program during chemotherapy required less dosage and fewer delays in their chemotherapy treatments. Of course, if you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, you should first discuss exercise with your doctor. For most breast cancer patients, rigorous activity isn’t recommended, but regular moderate exercise, such as walking or strength training with light weights, can help you to feel better, and as strange as it may sound, you might even feel less tired than before you exercised.

The Benefits of Exercising During Breast Cancer Treatment

According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, cancer patients who incorporated regular exercise in their daily lives had 40% to 50% less fatigue, the primary complaint and side effect during breast cancer treatment. Here are just a few of the many benefits exercise during cancer treatment can bring:

  • Fewer symptoms of fatigue
  • Maintain or improve your physical abilities
  • Improved balance and maintained muscle strength
  • Increased independence
  • Improved quality of life.

Another benefit of regular exercise is weight control. The NCCN also states that gaining weight during or after breast cancer treatment can increase the risk of cancer recurrence.

Ideas for Exercise During Breast Cancer Treatment

Once you’ve been cleared for moderate exercise by your oncologist, you might not know where to begin. Some great ways to incorporate an exercise routine include:

  • Stationary bicycling
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Strength training using light weights or resistance bands
  • Power walking (slightly faster pace than leisurely walking)
  • Stretching

Be sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. If you start to feel faint, stop and take a rest. Avoid staying out in the sun for too long – this can increase dehydration and exhaustion.

Work towards 30 minutes a day of exercise, but of course, your doctor will recommend what’s best for you. You will soon reap the benefits of regular exercise during and after treatment, and discover new ways to keep your body moving.

Download our free guide for breast cancer patients about managing treatment side effects.