Fitness program for cancer survivors?


Question from Jaya: Dr. Gralow, could you please explain your exercise and fitness program for cancer survivors? I think starting a structured program may help lift my mood and take my mind off the treatment for a while.
Answers - Julie Gralow, M.D. I think it's great that you're asking about fitness, and I would encourage you to find a way to incorporate some exercise into your daily routine. We have a group in Seattle called Team Survivor Northwest. It's an exercise and fitness program for all women affected by cancer. We have weekly workouts for women cancer patients and survivors at four hospitals in the Seattle area, so there are four going on around town every week. We have an exercise therapist at each workout to meet patients who are new to the program and help them set realistic goals. The exercise therapist also makes sure we're aware of any specific treatment-related issues that might affect a woman's ability to participate in exercise.

We also have walks and runs that meet in a couple of different places around Seattle a few times a week. And we have all kinds of special sessions and special events. We have a group that likes to do dragon boating, and we have a big team of dragon boaters. They get up very early in the morning, do their stretches, and get out on the lakes. Some women like to hike. Some women have climbed mountains around Seattle. We have women who like to ride bicycles, and we had a group recently that rode their bikes across the state of Washington. Some women find that swimming is one of the best activities for them. We even have a program that provides childcare during swim sessions, and where the swim is only open to cancer survivors. And since it's only open to women cancer survivors, any body image problems melt away because you're with women who know where you're coming from.

We offer such a wide variety of programs because we know that each woman is different. The most important thing is to find something you like so you'll keep doing it. Because exercise, during and after treatment for breast cancer, is one of the things you can do for yourself that can impact both physical and emotional health. Remember, too, that stretching can be quite beneficial immediately after surgery to get the range of motion in your arm back. Stretching may be the most vigorous exercise you can do at certain times during your treatment. Maybe something like gentle yoga, which gets you out there, gets you active, and keeps you limber and strong, would be good. You don't have to be doing anything terribly athletic-sounding in order to do your body a lot of good.

On Wednesday, January 15, 2003, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Managing Treatment Side Effects. Julie Gralow, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about many of the short-term and long-term side effects of breast cancer treatment, and ways of minimizing them, so you can get on with your life and enjoy your day-to-day activities.

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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