EXERCISE & BREAST CANCER
Exercise and Its Shielding Effects Against Breast Cancer
While many of us are aware of the transformative powers of exercise for weight management, overall wellbeing and uplifting your mood, you may not be aware that there is also a connection between regular exercise and the reduced risk and management of breast cancer.
Exercise’s Role in Diminishing Breast Cancer Vulnerability
Physical activity can act as a preventive measure against breast cancer for women across different age brackets. Its significance, however, is magnified for post-menopausal women, where studies have shown it can reduce the occurrence by 20-30%.
For those diagnosed with breast cancer, physical activity can also provide benefit. Engaging in moderate exercise post-diagnosis is linked with a mortality reduction rate of approximately 24%. Even minimal engagements, such as an hour-long walk weekly, offer tangible benefits. Post-treatment, physical activity is not just a physical ally but also a mental one. A specific study underlines this, pointing out that heightened exercise levels correlate with decreased stress, fatigue, and memory impairment among breast cancer survivors.
Why Embrace Exercise Post-Treatment?
The benefits of consistent physical activity, especially post-treatment, are numerous according to studies. These are:
- Combating Treatment Side Effects: Exercise can help mitigate various side effects of cancer treatment such as fatigue, weight gain, osteoporosis, and lymphoedema.
- Fortifying Long-term Health: An active lifestyle enhances overall health, reducing the potential risks of cardiovascular ailments. It might even decrease the odds of the cancer’s recurrence.
- Uplifting Mental Health: Physical activity is an excellent antidote to anxiety, stress, and depression. It acts as a natural mood enhancer.
- Maintaining Muscle Tone and Fitness: Staying active can prevent the muscle tone and fitness degradation that could occur post-treatment.
The Ideal Amount of Physical Activity
Post breast cancer diagnosis, the recommended physical activity levels align with general guidelines. As per these national recommendations, adults should do:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activities (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of intensive activities (such as running) weekly.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises on a minimum of two days weekly.
To delve deeper into these guidelines, consider checking out the NHS website.
When Treatment Effects Linger
Even if achieving the recommended 150 minutes weekly seems daunting, any progress is positive progress. And if certain medical conditions limit your activity, engage to the best of your ability under medical advice. Your healthcare provider can guide you to activities that will support with your condition.
Post breast surgery, always seek guidance from your treatment team regarding the commencement and nature of exercises.
Kickstarting Your Active Journey
Begin with activities that resonate with you and progress gradually. If you enjoy walking, start with short, regular walks. As you adapt, extend the duration, frequency, or pace.
Utilising tools like pedometers or related mobile apps can provide valuable insights into your progress and give you the motivation to continue as your chart your progress. Setting tangible goals, maintaining an activity log, and sharing your progress with friends and family all helps.
Putting Activity Into Your Daily Routines
Integrating exercise into daily routine can be easy. Here are a few tips to help:
- Opt for vigorous household tasks or gardening
- Consider parking further from destinations to incorporate walking
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Try a light session in the gym, all it takes is 30 minutes a few times per week
- In scenarios where sitting is avoidable, stand, like when chatting over the phone