Exercise After Breast Cancer Treatment
It is common for women who undergo multiple breast cancer treatments to experience extreme fatigue, which can result in lack of motivation for physical activity and exercise. While this may be the case for most patients, research shows that a consistent fitness regiment after treatment improves stamina and overall quality of life. Exercise has also been linked to a reduced risk of recurrence, especially regarding breast cancer. We’ve gathered a list of useful tips to help maintain a balanced fitness routine following your treatment.
Breathing exercises are known to reduce anxiety while improving overall relaxation and flexibility. For deep breathing, breathe in through the nose for four seconds; hold your breath to the count of seven, and slowly exhale through pursed lips for about eight seconds. Repeat this exercise at least four times and practice daily.
Post Chemotherapy Exercises
Alleviating fatigue post chemo can be as simple as walking at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Start slowly, building up your time from five minutes twice a day to 30 minutes at least five days a week. If 30 minutes is too much for your body, it is okay to break up your routine and walk 10 minutes during the mornings, afternoons, and evenings between meals.
Post Radiation Therapy Exercises
Scarring as a result of radiation therapy is known to cause limited mobility. To improve flexibility, practice stretching exercises such as arm rotations and shoulder shrugs. Hold both arms to the right and rotate in a circular motion at least eight times while doing the same on the left.
Shoulder shrugs can be done at the comfort of your desk or kitchen table. Place both your arms alongside your body and breathe in through the nose and raise your shoulders to your ears. Hold for five seconds then breathe out through the lips as you push your shoulders down. Be sure to engage your back muscles and repeat at least two times.
Be Mindful of Your Body
Prior to starting any sort of exercise program, talk to your doctor in order to monitor your health and recovery process. During this time, it is important to pay attention to your body and not to over exert yourself. Increase your repetitions slowly and see how your body responds in the 24 hours following exercise. If you are overly strained, reduce your activities and slowly increase your workout intensity over time.
Regardless of your level of physical activity prior to the start of your treatment, you will need to pace yourself and your exercise intensity accordingly. Each person will have their own unique recovery process, so don’t feel compelled to follow a strict workout routine or discouraged by your specific journey. Recovery is not linear; on days where your body feels overly strained, it is okay to take breaks and allow yourself to rest. Keep a constant flow of communication with your doctors and caregivers to shape your exercise plan in accordance with your needs.