One of the best ways to get on to the path of recovery after breast cancer treatment is to focus on personal fitness. Along with adequate rest and stress management, staying physically active is important for overall wellness and healing during and after breast cancer treatment.
Before beginning any kind of exercise, it is very important to talk to an oncologist or surgeon. They may recommend meeting a certified exercise specialist or a physiotherapist who can tailor exercise programs to suit a person’s health and treatment history.
Research shows that some exercises are not only safe but help speed up recovery post breast cancer treatment.
Exercise has been shown to:
- Boost mood
- Improve energy levels
- Strengthen bones
- Prevent cancer recurrence
How much should one exercise?
The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (brisk walking) or 75 minutes of intense (running) physical activity and two sessions of strength training each week for breast cancer survivors.
Here are some easy fitness tips that can be followed to optimize healing and well-being:
Six easy fitness tips
#1: Include exercise in day-to-day routine:
Start slow and make physical activity a part of the daily routine. These tips can help improve a person’s fitness levels:
- Watering the plants
- Using the staircases, when possible, instead of elevators or escalators
- Walking around while talking on the phone
- Taking a short five minute walk every hour
#2: Start walking:
As studies show, just 30 minutes of walking every day can improve the mood, energy levels and can even prevent cancer recurrence.
Arm and shoulder stretching exercises help reduce stiffness or numbness in the arms and shoulders and improve range of motion. Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital advises breast cancer survivors to do each of these exercises ten times, five times in a day.
These exercises involve moving the arm
- Over the head and to the side
- Behind the neck
- Towards the middle of the back
#4: Lift light weights:
Weight training exercises using light weights (dumbbells, weight plates, kettlebells) can help regain lost muscle mass, strength, bone mineral density, and physical function. However, some of the upper arm weight lifting and sit-ups may not be suitable for breast cancer survivors immediately after breast cancer treatment.
#5: Practise deep breathing:
Practice deep breathing as many times in a day as possible. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety as it signals the brain cells to relax.
#6: Wear a pedometer:
Pedometers are devices that track the number of steps taken by an individual in a day. While there is no pressure to aim for 10,000 steps, one can gradually increase the number of steps walked each day.
Consult your doctor
Enjoy exercising – but remember to exercise safely by following instructions that a doctor and/or certified exercise trainer provides.
For those people with low immunity levels, a fracture or other chronic health conditions, some of these exercises may not be suitable.
Consult your doctor to know more about which exercises are the safest to try.