Add exercise to your breast cancer prescription - Latest news • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

Add exercise to your breast cancer prescription

New exercise guidelines for cancer patients place emphasis on the role of exercise in cancer recovery.

Getting a good sweat on helps after a cancer diagnosis and during rehabilitation, as well as reducing risk of recurrence and long term bone damage. This is highlighted by The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) in its new position statement.

COSA says: “All people with cancer should avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis.” It recommends people with cancer should attempt “at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise each week, alongside two to three resistance exercise sessions.”

This isn’t as daunting as it may seem and it’s important to recognise that exercise is not one size fits all - finding what works for you may take some trial and error.

But, how do you define moderate vs vigorous? Moderate exercise leaves you a little out of breath and raises the heart rate and could include walking, swimming or yoga. In comparison, vigorous exercise leaves your heart pounding and includes running, cycling or high intensity fitness classes. You can combine a bit of both! For example, over a few weeks you could enjoy some light yoga sessions along with a few fun box-fit classes, rounded off with a bush walk.

It is also recommended that you complete two to three resistance exercise sessions a week, helping to repair muscle weakness or imbalance after breast cancer surgery. Additionally, resistance training strengthens bones, very important as long term breast cancer treatment (including with aromatase inhibitors) can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

The weights section of the gym can be a little intimidating but it doesn’t have to be all kettlebells and barbells. You can also include bodyweight exercises - easily carried out at home. For a fab list of 50 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere, click here.

COSA says: “Being physically active and exercising regularly is important for the health, function, quality of life and potentially survival of people with cancer”.

It’s worth giving different sports a go, often clubs and gyms of all kinds have free trial offers - just enquire within. Lululemon retail stores nationwide offer regular free yoga classes as well as other fitness classes. Often free outdoor boot camps crop up, especially over the summer – check for Facebook groups and local community boards.

Whatever you choose to do, encourage a friend to join up with you! This makes that initial session a little easier, plus you will have a set time in your schedule to catch up each week.

So get out there, dust off your trainers and give it a go - embrace the sweat and enjoy those feel good hormones!

To read the COSA statement please select the link