going through treatment for breast cancer, many women are
nauseated, sore, hormonal and cranky — and exercising is not
on the top of their to-do list.
doctors are recommending that they prioritize it to increase
their chances of beating breast cancer, improving their mood
and making sure the cancer doesn’t return.
largest study to date followed survivors over five years and
found that one to two hours of brisk walking per week was
associated with 40 percent lower risk of death overall
compared with those who were less active," said Susan
Brown, managing director of health and mission program
education at Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
meta-analysis of studies found that the mortality rate for
breast cancer was 34 percent lower for women who were very
active when compared with women with breast cancer who weren’t
2013 study found that breast cancer survivors aren’t meeting
national exercise recommendations.
who is in active treatment may not feel like walking nine
hours a week, but walking a small amount of time can
help," Brown said.
though much of the research has focused on the long-term
effects of exercise, many of the results can be felt right
away, said Julie Everett, physical therapist at Johns Hopkins
Hospital in Baltimore, and a certified lymphedema specialist.
can increase your energy, which sounds a little
backward," Everett said. "You’re expelling energy
to gain more. If you increase your calorie burn, it can
decrease the fatigue."
that exercise also combats depression, which is common with
is figuring out how to get back into exercising — or even to
start a fitness routine from scratch — after a woman is
undergoing breast cancer treatment or has had a mastectomy.
people who have had a lumpectomy or minimal surgery should be
able to start an exercise regimen within six weeks, after
getting approval from their doctor, though those who have
undergone a more extensive surgery may have a longer wait,
said Lidia Schapira, assistant professor of medicine at
Harvard Medical School and staff oncologist at Massachusetts
person undergoing treatment is fit and already used to
exercising before she was diagnosed, she can continue her
routine, simply running a little slower if she was a runner or
lifting weights that are a little lighter, Schapira said.
said she recommends beginner yoga and tai chi for breast
cancer patients because both forms of exercise will start to
stretch the patient’s arms, targeting the areas that were
affected through the treatment.
that patients would also benefit from simply lying on a bed on
their back, arms outstretched with a cane or an umbrella
overhead, reaching their arms overhead to get a good stretch.
who are sore and are having trouble moving their upper body
can simply walk, do steps or ellipticals without arms or stay
on a stationary bicycle where the focus is on the lower body,
certain forms of exercise are not recommended to breast cancer
away from Bikram yoga," Everett said, warning that the
heat from this style of yoga increases the blood flow, which
is especially bad for breast cancer patients who are already
at an increased risk for lymphedema, a swelling in the arms or
legs caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system.
of the type of exercise that patients choose, Everett said
that the key is to not exercise too ardently, which may be the
case if someone wants to take a spin class or to train for a
marathon at this point.
should still be able to hold a conversation, to talk on the
phone," she said. "If you’re not able to
communicate, you’re working too hard."