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Women with advanced breast cancer may see a big impact in their lives from a well-planned exercise program, according to a mini study.The study involved 15 women with ages from 34 to 68 who are receiving treatment for advanced breast cancer.The said women were previously not into exercise.Eight of the participants were assigned to a 12-week fitness program while the other seven continued to receive care.The 12-week fitness program consisted of an hour of exercise twice a week that included aerobics and resistance training.When compared, the women who were assigned to the fitness program manifested improvements in the quality of their lives such as better heart health, less pain, reduced fatigue, more emotional stability, and the ability to perform daily tasks.
"This is a small group of patients, but the results suggest that this is something worth exploring for a much larger group of women.In this study, we have demonstrated that these women are able to take part in a well-planned exercise program and that there are measurable benefits to their health and well-being," said Eduardo Oliveira, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Porto in Portugal and the author of the study.
Oliveira encouraged health professionals to gain awareness of the therapeutic effects of exercise, while more sports scientists are needed to study how exercise can improve lives of women with breast cancer.
Benefits of Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients
Many women who underwent breast cancer surgery and treatment are likely uncomfortable with the idea of exercising.But a well-prepared fitness program features many benefits.
1.Helps restore movement – Exercising reduces the effects of surgery and cancer therapies, such as sustained flexibility of your arm and shoulder.You can discuss your workout regimen with your doctor, and he/she will likely recommend you to a physical or occupational therapist.This is important if you have not used your arm in three or four weeks after surgery.However, certain exercises can start after the drains and stitches have been removed.
2.Decreases the levels of inflammation and stress – According to Dr.Susan Love, breast cancer require a mutated cell.You can get this mutated cell through genetics if your family has a history of breast cancer, from a complication of a viral infection or from a carcinogenic chemical.Exercising changes your body chemistry and creates an unfavorable environment for tumors to grow.
3.Keeps yourself energized – If you are undergoing a cancer treatment via chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you need every source of energy possible.Exercising boosts your energy, strengthens your resolve, and increases your physical strength.Consistent exercise reduces fatigue, anxiety, and fear.According to the researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, lifetime exercise can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 23 percent.
Common Things You Should Keep in Mind
As mentioned, before trying any exercises, consult your doctor to avoid injury.During an exercise, you may experience many things as your body adjusts, according to the American Cancer Society.
- The tightness in your chest and armpit after surgery is normal.Exercising reduces the duration of tightness.
- There are women who experience burning, tingling, numbness or soreness on the back of their arm or on the chest wall.These sensations are side effects of the surgery because the procedure can irritate some nerves.To ease these sensations, you may rub or stroke the affected area with your hand or with a soft cloth.You may continue exercising to improve your arm and chest but stop and consult your doctor if there is an unusual swelling or tenderness.
- Make sure to wear loose and comfortable clothing.After your exercise, you can take a warm shower to relax the muscles on your arm and chest.
- Gentle stretching should be performed slowly and you must not bounce or make jerky movements.If you feel pain during exercise or stretching, consult your doctor to determine if the sensation is normal or is caused by something else.
- Do not forget to breathe when exercising.Take deep breaths, in and out, during exercises.
- Consistency is the key to reach optimal results.It does not matter if you can only do it for five or ten minutes -- as long as you do it on a regular basis, your arm and chest will improve from constant exercise.
The First Week After Surgery
In the first three to seven days after your surgery, there are some simple exercises you can do every day.However, never do these exercises without getting an approval from your doctor.
- Use your affected arm whenever doing simple tasks, such as combing your hair, taking a bath, getting dressed, and eating.
- When lying down, raise the affected arm above the level of your heart for 45 minutes.Put your arm on pillows to raise your hand higher than your elbow wrist but, your elbow should be a little higher than your shoulder.You may do this two or three times each day.
- Perform deep breathing exercises at least six times every day.This simple exercise helps maintain the normal movement of your chest and makes your lungs work easier.
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Facts About Breast Cancer
- It is the most common cancer in women and the risk doubles each decade until menopause.
- The early stage of breast cancers has a five-year survival rate of up to 90 percent in countries with advanced medical care.
- About 22 percent cases of breast cancer in Brazil could have been prevented by avoiding alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and consistent physical activity.