A breast cancer diagnosis can bring a whole host of other health-related challenges that can significantly impede a woman’s ability to fight and recover from the disease. These issues cover the entire health and well-being spectrum, from depression and isolation to debilitating nausea and mastectomy. Drugs, therapies and innovative disease management techniques will all likely be part of a breast cancer patient’s comprehensive treatment plan. But in all this high-tech medical treatment is a very low-tech treatment can often be overlooked…exercise.
Can exercise really help?
The short answer is yes. For the longer answer we can refer to a medical literature review conducted by M.N. Kirshbaum
of the University of Sheffield, School of Nursing and Midwifery. Kirshbaum analyzed data from 29 articles reporting the results of studies that examined the effects of exercise on breast cancer patients. The results showed that all types of aerobic exercise are beneficial for patients during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is especially helpful in limiting cancer-related fatigue. Other areas where exercise was found to be advantageous were increased “cardiopulmonary function, overall quality of life, global health, strength, sleep, and self-esteem.” Exercise can also potentially reduce “weight gain, depression, anxiety and tiredness.”
What kinds of exercises can I do during my treatment?
Believe it or not, common sense has a lot to do with answering this question. For example, if you didn’t exercise much before your diagnosis, you will want to start slowly and gradually work up to a more vigorous routine. The Curves circuit
is ideal for those starting out; you can adjust your intensity on the machines as you get stronger.
If you did follow a regular exercise regimen before you were diagnosed, chances are you will be able to continue that routine. In both cases, however, you will need clearance from your doctor before you begin. As the studies mentioned above suggest, aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial during treatment as it helps strengthen cardiopulmonary function and reduces depression and fatigue.
Precautions you should take:
* Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
* Start slowly and with minimal repetitions; then build gradually.
* Stop exercising and call your doctor if you have worsening pain, get light-headed or experience any unusual or uncomfortable symptoms.