- Question from MAbrams: I had Stage III breast cancer in 2003. I just completed my last reconstruction. What is some good information about beginning to exercise after TRAM flap and post-op implant surgery? I am fighting fatigue but have access to a gym.
You should certainly talk to your physician and make sure you get the okay for moving forward. It can be really beneficial to work with a professional—a physical therapist or a certified personal trainer who has worked with breast cancer patients. But you could do it on your own as well.
Be cautious and smart to begin with. Start with an easy program. Some aerobic activity and some mild weight exercise is the best thing you can do. You don't just run a marathon the next week—you slowly get fitter so all your muscles (especially your abdominal, back, and core muscles) improve. Over time, the muscles, ligaments, etc. will all become fitter as will your cardiovascular system. A lot of it is being smart, going back to our theme of common sense. Also, come up with a smart plan. Write it down, and keep track of how you feel, periodically reevaluate your fitness goals, and move from there. The hardest thing for anybody (it doesn't matter who you are) is to be consistent with your exercise. That's where things like a pedometer, or a journal where you keep track with self-monitoring can be very helpful.
- Judith Sachs In terms of physical evaluation, is it true you can get your doctor to prescribe a physical therapist or trainer?
- Miriam Nelson It depends on what is covered by your health plan.
- Julie Gralow, M.D. The majority of my patients usually are allowed some physical therapy benefits, say six to eight visits. Sometimes I'm successful in getting that extended, if I can prove it will help.
- Miriam Nelson If you do meet with a physical therapist and you only have six visits covered, the most important thing is for them to help you get a fitness plan for yourself after you finish, so they've trained you enough that you know what to do and how to progress.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Physical Activity and Breast Cancer featured Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., Julie Gralow, M.D., and moderator Judith Sachs answering your questions about the many issues related to physical activity and breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2006.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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