Fitness After Breast Cancer

October is Pink Ribbon month, meaning its Breast Cancer awareness month and here at RDX Sports with so many female athletes to celebrate, we acknowledge that cancer is what brings out any athletes most fierce fight.

Research shows that exercise pre & post cancer treatment can do wonders for the healing process and how your body reacts to treatment and recovery.

However, just knowing you have cancer can suck the whole life out of you. The sense of loss, disbelief, anxiety and then depression at being diagnosed with cancer, are all extremely energy depleting mental states to be in. Physical fitness is the last thing on your mind when everything else is falling apart.

So how do you make exercise a priority when all other plans and priorities have been blurred by cancer?

If you weren’t into exercise or fitness prior to the diagnosis, then it is time to start now, since being overweight increases your risk of a relapse. Also, exercise is a major mood enhancer and at this point of your life, you need every and any positive influence you come by to lift your spirits. Start any kind of fitness or exercise regime after consulting your doctor.

Photo Credit: Hannah Wells

If you were a fitness freak before your diagnosis, then stick to the routine to remind yourself of aspects of your life cancer has not been able to touch. Although you may not be able to exercise with the same level of energy and verve, since surgery fatigue tends to linger. Low energy levels can become even worse combined with chemotherapy and radiation. But even the most basic level of exercise will help at this point, such as a short walk. Again, make sure you have your doctor’s approval before you start.


Steps Towards Starting Exercise Pre or Post Breast Cancer Treatment:

Here are a few essential fitness & exercise guidelines to follow during and after treatment from Cathy Bryan, M.Ed., American College of Sports Medicine-certified cancer and exercise personal trainer:

  • Take your doctors opinion about starting exercise during and after your treatment.
  • Once you have your doctor’s approval, get evaluated by incase you weren’t into exercise before your diagnosis, you may have to face limited options unrelated to your cancer such as weak muscles or stiffness.
  • Find a certified personal trainer who has experience of working with people post-surgery or treatment.
  • Get to know about lymphedema and watch for symptoms.
  • Don’t overdo it and rest when you need to.

Photo Credit: Glamour

A few other precautions to take:

Exercise can be a daunting task for a beginner, especially in a scenario involving breast cancer. Experiencing shortness of breath and muscular pain initially is expected. However if you keep experiencing these symptoms along with tightness in your chest continuously, please stop exercising immediately. discuss this situation with your doctor and work with him towards developing a fitness plan that is right for you.

Any significant and sudden changes in your arm, hand, trunk, breast, or shoulder, such as swelling, means stop doing upper body exercises and check with your  doctor about lymphedema. In case you get diagnosed with lymphedema after breast cancer treatment, there are precautions you will need to take before embarking on any exercise regime.

My parting advice to you is to keep your head up and fight through breast cancer with courage, grace and the will to survive- and nothing brings out our core fighter like fitness and exercise does.