Exercise for Fatigue

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Get moving! The American Cancer Society recommends that women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer exercise regularly (about 4 hours per week) to improve their quality of life and physical fitness. You can start slowly. Four hours of exercise a week may sound impossible if you're a lifelong couch potato or if you're sore from surgery, too busy with radiation therapy, or exhausted from chemotherapy. It's hard to force yourself to exercise when you barely have enough energy to get out of bed or off the sofa.

Start slowly, perhaps walking for 15 minutes a day, and then gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising. You may need months to work your way up to 4 hours a week, but that's fine. Even during treatment, taking short, slow walks up and down the street or around the block can be very helpful. Then you can progress to gentle exercise, such as yoga or tai chi.

Staying physically active is the key. Short spurts of activity here and there are good. But it's even better to build up to one long period of exercise that lasts from 15 minutes to an hour (or longer, if you can).

If you're not sure how to start exercising, you might want to visit a gym or make an appointment with a personal trainer to learn about different types of exercise. Make sure you tell the trainer about your health situation. Some people prefer exercising in their homes using videotapes or DVDs. Other people find great joy in gardening or yard work, as opposed to organized moderate exercise. Walking with a friend is a great way to socialize AND get the benefits of exercise.

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