Believe it or not, exercising while undergoing cancer treatment can be an extremely helpful part of your recovery. We know, however, that cancer treatments can place an enormous stress on your body and mind. In this article, we’ve listed 8 below workouts designed to keep you feeling as good as possible! Though, we need to clear up a few things first:
Before Getting Started
Researchers have found that working out with a breast cancer diagnosis is completely safe, but the kind of physical activity you’re capable of depends on a few factors. This can include: your physical health before your diagnosis, stage of cancer, side effects from treatment, and other health problems you might have.
While a moderate workout can lift your spirits, a milder workout may be more feasible for another cancer patient. It’s crucial to do regular check-ins with your doctor concerning the kinds of exercise you do. You don’t want to be exercising right after a surgery, or doing anything so vigorously that you wear yourself out.
There are definitely more positives than negatives when it comes to getting an exercise routine going, such as:
- Relief and/or prevention of depression and anxiety
- Increased strength
- Increased energy
- Can help reduce pain
- Help heal scars faster
- Help reduce risk of cancer-related lymphedema
- Decrease chances of recurring cancer
- And more!
Yoga is much more than a form of exercise- it can revitalize you mentally. This study, in particular, looked at how cancer patients improved their wellbeing from practicing yoga regularly. Results showed that it was able to lower levels of fatigue significantly. Plus, the stretching that yoga requires can be great for stiff joints and muscles from too much time in the hospital or at home. Remember to start off with easy poses before steadily increasing the difficulty!
- Walking and Hiking
You really don’t need to be an athlete to partake in strolls. The great thing about walking is that you can do it almost anywhere, and it will amp up your cardiovascular health and reduce stress. Because it is such an accessible form of exercise, walking can become an easy group activity with friends and family.
Just like yoga, pilates can offer gentle strengthening to keep your fatigue low and muscles working nicely. Pilates targets core muscles, which can be especially helpful for mobility when arm movement is limited after surgery.
- Tai chi
This ancient martial art has now evolved into a low-impact form of physical activity. The mindful movements of Tai Chi can make it a very meditative practice and help bring awareness and breathing.
- Stationary Bike
Investing in a stationary bike or using one at the gym can be a great option for when you might still have a lot of tenderness and pain in your breast after surgery. You can give your legs and heart a high-intensity workout while giving the rest of your body a bit more time to heal.
Dance can work for anyone at any age since it’s such a versatile form of expression. If you’re not sure where to start, dance movement therapy has some profound benefits for cancer patients. Plus, you can build a sense of community by dancing with others.
- At-Home Chores and Yard Work
Just getting into the habit of doing physical activity in and around your house can be sufficient enough. This article provides some tips on how to turn gardening into a dynamic workout.
- Post-Surgery Rehab Exercises
The American Cancer Society made a list of specific exercises you can practice to promote healing after surgery. If you’ve undergone a cancer-related surgery, these should only be considered at least one week after.
- Exercise at your own pace and progress slowly
- Avoid heavy lifting post-surgery
- Consider a post-mastectomy sports bra so sensitive scar tissue can heal faster
- Have frequent communication with your doctor and/or lymphedema specialist
- Avoid swimming while having chemotherapy or radiotherapy. You may be more prone to infection in pool water.
4 Ways Exercise Can Prevent Recurring Cancer
No matter what stage of life you’re at, any form of exercise is better than none. Staying active after recovery has its unique advantages:
- Exercise can lower estrogen in the body, which lowers breast cancer risk
- It helps decrease your body fat percentage; less fat means that less estrogen is stored
- It promotes strong immunity, so that your body has a better chance of identifying and attacking cancer cells
- It can increase the flow of lymphatic fluid so that lymph node metastasis is prevent