If you are being treated for breast cancer, you may feel too tired to exercise. But there are many reasons to do so. Research shows exercise is not only possible during treatment, but it can improve your physical health and your quality of life. One study of 3,000 breast cancer patients, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even showed that women who walked just 3 – 5 hours a week had better survival rates.
Of course, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before you begin any type of exercise program. Your cancer care team will determine whether it is safe for you to exercise, and if so, will provide you with some guidelines and precautions. It may take some effort to get started, but once you get in gear, you’ll likely find yourself feeling better both physically and mentally.
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Ways exercise can help you during treatment
- Helps you fight fatigue, recover your energy and build stamina. Research shows people who exercise during treatment generally report 40% – 50% less fatigue.
- Improves heart and bone health.
- Helps strengthen muscles and improve balance, reducing your risk of falls.
- May ease side effects, such as nausea, and boost your immune system.
- Helps control weight, which may lower your risk of recurrence.
- Lifts your spirits and helps control stress by giving you a sense of control over your health.
- Improves body image. Treatment often rocks a woman’s vision of herself. Finding ways to feel good about your body is important.
If your doctor gives you the OK to exercise, begin slowly until you see how your body reacts to the activity. Any type of cardiovascular exercise helps, but many breast cancer patients find that walking is a good place to start. If you find you can’t exercise for an extended length of time, break your activity up throughout the day. Walking just 10 – 15 minutes at a time offers benefits. Strength training can also improve your overall well-being.
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