The month of October is breast cancer awareness month and in 2022 about 287,850 cases will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. I recently took a fitness training seminar and at lunch sat with one of the attendees. Getting acquainted, we talked about ourselves, and her input was that she is a breast cancer survivor.
She shared with us how important exercise has been to her for her well-being, and the struggles and victories she has had in the process. By conversation, it was apparent that her breast cancer has been serious. Her driving force to overcome, heal and continue pursuing the fitness industry was obvious in her language and approach to the session.
I left my seminar with much more than continued education. I left inspired by an individual with determination. Building an exercise program based on the type of cancer a person has and treatment can be an important step in the healing process. Sometimes exercise is done as part of the rehabilitation program and there is a difference between exercise and rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation may be the first step before you can implement an exercise program. Once the person is cleared to begin activities the benefits of exercise can help reduce treatment-related fatigue, and maintain lung fitness, strength and physical ability.
Exercise can also be beneficial for feelings of anxiety and depression and improve the quality of life and new studies suggest the importance of overall healing.
The type of exercise and or aerobic activity is solely based on a doctor’s recommendations. However, there is an overview of exercises that may be beneficial if the person is cleared to begin an exercise regimen. Stretching can help improve flexibility and posture, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.
As an example, radiation therapy can limit your range of motion causing your muscles to stiffen.
Regular stretching can improve mobility and flexibility and help break down scar tissue.
Loss of balance can be a side effect after treatment. Balance exercises can help you regain your stability and fear of falling. Some treatments can cause your feet to feel numb and hard to maintain balance. Incorporating balance exercises can help offset instability. Aerobic exercise can help increase your heart rate helping you feel less tired. Walking can be a good start for just a few minutes per day increasing the amount of time and your pace. Seated exercises can be done with paper plates under your feet while moving your arms and feet to a favorite song.
Strength training is important for muscle loss and is done with light dumbbells or stretch bands. Increasing your muscle mass and endurance can help with your core and stability. Seated exercises can also be done with the use of dumbbells and stretch bands.
Start slowly with your exercise and listen to your body. Rest on the days that you have the treatment and if your energy level is low adjust the amount of time that you exercise or rest. Staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods is an important part of fueling your body.
If your health provider has cleared you, ask questions concerning what is and is not advised, such as: what time of day is best, what am I cleared to do or stay away from, how much time do you suggest starting, should I begin my exercise seated, can I go to a fitness center, work with a trainer, and what medications affect exercise?
Live, love, life and strength.