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Exercise During and After Treatment

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Research strongly suggests that exercise is safe during and after cancer treatment and also can improve how you feel and how your body functions.

Your ability to exercise during treatment will depend on your overall health and physical condition before your diagnosis. So if you didn’t exercise at all, then you need to start very slowly and carefully and only after you have your doctor’s OK. If you exercised regularly before your diagnosis, keeping to the routine may help you remember that there are parts of your life that are still intact. Again, make sure you have your doctor’s OK before you start.

Depending on the treatment, your doctor or your physical therapist can help you develop an exercise plan that’s right for you.

Here are some guidelines on exercise during and after treatment from Cathy Bryan, M.Ed., American College of Sports Medicine-certified cancer and exercise personal trainer:

  • Ask your doctor about what she/he thinks about exercise during and after your treatment.
  • Tell your doctor that exercise is important to you and that you want to make it or continue to make it part of your life.
  • Once you have your doctor’s OK, visit a physical therapist for a structural evaluation. If you didn’t exercise before your diagnosis, you may have issues unrelated to breast cancer treatment that may limit your exercise such as limited leg mobility or weak abdominal muscles.
  • The stronger you are before surgery, the quicker and more efficiently you can recover from it.
  • Find a certified personal trainer in your area who has worked with breast cancer survivors to help you start exercising and show you any precautions you may need to take.
  • Learn about lymphedema and watch for symptoms.
  • Use common sense. You’re the only person who knows how you really feel. Don’t overdo it and rest when you need it.

Read more about exercise during and after breast cancer treatments:

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