Exercise tips for breast cancer survivors

Regular physical activity offers survivors many physiological and psychological benefits, experts say.

Breast cancer survivors should exercise regularly to help prevent a recurrence of the disease and improve their overall health, according to the American Council on Exercise.

The group pointed out that physical activity has many physiological and psychological benefits for breast cancer survivors, including reduced fatigue and improved mood.

Tips for survivors

To help mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the American Council on Exercise offered the following tips for breast cancer survivors interested in establishing a regular exercise programme:

  • Engage in aerobic activities at moderate intensity for 150 minutes each week or strenuous physical activity for 75 minutes each week.
  • Choose activities that involve all the major muscle groups (lower and upper body) two or three times per week.
  • Stretch major muscle groups when engaging in aerobic and strength-training exercises to improve flexibility.
  • Before considering upper-body exercises, women who have had surgery should allow time to heal properly.
  • Exercise should be avoided when experiencing extreme fatigue or pain.
  • During chemotherapy, set short-term goals to maintain motivation. Also keep in mind that nausea may result in loss of appetite and lower energy levels.
  • Women undergoing radiation therapy should be sure to select comfortable clothing to avoid irritating any skin rashes or burns. Pools should also be avoided at this time.
  • Women receiving hormone treatment should drink plenty of water and avoid activities that increase the potential for falls, due to increased risk for broken bones.

For women who want an exercise program tailored to their needs, there are personal trainers who specialise in working with cancer survivors.

Following through on regular exercise has been shown to enhance immune system function; decrease fatigue and pain; reduce risk of fracture from the loss of bone mass; improve sleep and balance; lower blood pressure and resting heart rate; and lead to better mood, less anxiety and less stress, according to the American Council on Exercise.

(HealthDay, October 2011)

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