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Exercise vital for breast cancer survivors

Exercise aids in breast cancer recovery.
Exercise aids in breast cancer recovery.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Breast cancer survivors may not feel up to exercising right away. Chemotherapy and other treatments can leave patients feeling weak and depleted. It may be tempting to skip exercise and heal. Actually, the opposite should be done. Exercise can speed the healing process. The key to exercise for breast cancer survivors is to start slow, then increase intensity.

Slow and steady

Breast cancer survivors may have been inactive for a long period of time. At first, start with slow easy motions to get the body used to movement. Dormant muscles may rebel. There may also be a fair amount of pain involved. Try simple stretches and movements for a few minutes a day before moving on.


Walking is ideal therapy for breast cancer survivors. It can be started off quite slowly. As the breast cancer survivor begins to shape up, intensity and endurance increase. Start with a slow even pace. Add more time and speed when physically possible. Resist the temptation to avoid exercise. Working out at your own pace and increasing speed gradually to a race walking pace can help with this.


Once a breast cancer survivor has increased to a race walking pace, steps can be added to the exercise routine. Climbing stairs can help to begin muscle mass building without the use of weights. Find a long set of stairs on your exercise route. Think "Rocky" but start by taking a few steps up and back down at a time. Work gradually up to climbing and descending the entire flight.


Breast cancer survivors should give themselves a week or two between exercise intensity levels. Once you've been climbing the stairs well for at least a week, add hand weights to the routine. The hand weights can increase in pounds as you go as well. When hand weights become easy, move on to a gym quality weight machine.


Adding cardio workouts is the next step for breast cancer survivors. Cardio workouts are those that get the heart pumping at an optimum rate. Examples of cardio exercise are aerobics, jogging and running. Breast cancer survivors beginning cardio intense exercise should still start slow and work their way up to avoid injury.

Mix it Up

Now the breast cancer survivor has a firm grasp on all the different forms of exercise. No one exercise is superior to another. The human body needs all the different forms of exercise for optimum health. At this point, it's time to work on a mixed exercise routine. Increase intensity and change the routine each week to avoid boredom and promote healing.

Please note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. This article is not intended to replace professional medical advice.


NBC News

LA Times

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo! property.

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