You’ve heard it before: exercise is good for you. But did you know it’s particularly beneficial for women diagnosed with breast cancer? Working out on a regular basis can do a lot for the health of those fighting cancer and those wanting to lower their risk of developing the disease.
The American Cancer Society recommends incorporating a regular workout schedule of four hours each week for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Let’s take a look at some benefits of getting your sweat on:
- You’ll lower your cancer risk. Exercising on a regular basis reduces your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as reduces the risk of it coming back if you’ve been diagnosed with it before. You’re also less likely to develop colon, lung, or uterus cancer if you incorporate workout activities into your lifestyle.
- You’ll maintain a healthy weight. Exercise helps you build muscle and burn fat, helping you maintain a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index). Women who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women with a healthy weight, especially after menopause. This higher risk is due to a greater concentration of estrogen, made by fat cells in the body, which can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers develop and grow. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce the risk of breast cancer returning in women who have had the disease.
- You’ll live longer. Research suggests a complex correlation between exercise and improved survival rates for breast cancer survivors through the maintenance of a healthy weight and lifestyle.
- You’ll have more energy. As one of the side effects during and after treatment for breast cancer, fatigue can weigh heavily on you. You can boost your endurance and give yourself more energy each day by exercising regularly to help your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
- You’ll have better mobility. Your arms and shoulder muscles can feel tight after breast cancer surgery, reconstruction, or radiation treatment due to the formation of scar tissues. By carefully stretching and using these muscles with exercise, you can improve any range of motion issues.
- You’ll keep your bones healthy. Bone mass decreases with age, and women are about twice as likely as men to develop osteoporosis (a disease of weakened bones that can break easily) after the age of 50. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s especially important for you to maintain healthy bones because research shows that some breast cancer treatments lead to bone loss. You can slow bone loss by performing weight-bearing exercise, such as jogging, walking, and strength training.
- You’ll feel better about yourself. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling scared, depressed, and anxious about the future. Working out regularly can help lift your spirits by triggering the release of brain chemicals such as endorphins that relax you and make you feel happier. You may even receive a confidence boost after looking in the mirror and seeing a fit, strong, toned woman looking back.
- You’ll sleep better. Regular exercise can help reduce insomnia and the number of times you wake up in the night. You’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply with an active lifestyle.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is your best fight to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. However, genetic factors do affect diagnoses, and it’s important to always attend regular checkups with your doctor to catch any concerning signs early. We may not have all the answers right now, but researchers are continuing to study breast cancer and its causes in hopes of someday finding a cure. Talk to your doctor about your risks and how you can make healthier decisions to reduce your risk, like exercising.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.