Exercise Improves Quality of Life After Cancer Treatment

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Research has shown that exercise (and a healthy diet) can help you feel good both physically and emotionally during and after breast cancer treatment.

A new study offers more evidence: people who regularly exercised after cancer treatment felt better physically and emotionally compared to people who didn't exercise regularly.

This new study is a meta-analysis, which means it analyzed the results of many earlier studies (34 to be exact) looking at the benefits of regular exercise after cancer treatment. The results were published in the Jan. 12, 2012 issue of the British Medical Journal (PDF).

The 34 studies analyzed were randomized, controlled studies. This means that the people in each study were randomly assigned to either an exercise group or a control group that didn't exercise during the study. More than half (65%) of the studies specifically focused on women who'd been treated for breast cancer. The others involved people treated for a variety of cancers, including breast cancer.

The analysis showed that regular exercise after breast cancer treatment boosted:

  • overall physical well-being (measured in part by blood tests linked to physical health)
  • muscle strength
  • stamina
  • mental health
  • overall sense of well-being and quality of life

If you're currently being treated or have been treated in the past for breast cancer, try to make exercise (and a healthy diet) part of your daily routine. Think of exercise and a healthy diet as another important part of your overall treatment plan that helps you recover and stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about how much and how often you should exercise. Ask around and see if any breast cancer support groups near you have organized exercise classes. If you can't find an exercise class through a breast cancer support group, consider joining another exercise class or start walking with a friend. There's a good chance that exercising with other people will give you the motivation and support to make regular exercise part of your recovery. Find the right exercise routine for YOU and then do your best to stick with it! It can make a difference both physically and mentally, today and tomorrow.

Breastcancer.org is proud to announce its new Exercise section! In it, you can learn about the benefits of exercise, types of exercise, when you can and can't exercise during treatment, tips on finding a trainer, and much more.

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