Exercise for Breast Cancer

Written by Isabella Peters (Bach ExSci) (Masters Exercise Physiology – current)

Breast Cancer Facts and Statistics

Did You Know?

  • 1 in 8 women in Australia will develop Breast Cancer
  • There is a 90% survival rate however there is an increased likelihood of chronic disease post treatment.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in woman in Australia
  • On average, 53 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer everyday.

What is Breast Cancer?

  • Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast
  • The cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body

Risk factors to developing breast cancer include:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history
  • Exposure to female hormones
  • Previous non cancer breast conditions
  • Lifestyle risk factors such as being overweight, not enough physical activity and drinking alcohol.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer include:

  • New lump
  • Thickening in the breast under the arm
  • Changes in the shape or size o the breast
  • Dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • Rash or red swollen breast.

Benefits of Exercise for Breast Cancer

Research has shown that exercise can:

  • Help manage the side effects through treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy
  • Increase energy levels/ manage fatigue
  • Improve mood and quality of life
  • Reduce the decline in muscle mass
  • Decrease the risk of chronic disease post treatment such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
  • Helps to circulate chemotherapy so it is more targeted to cancer site
  • Maintain flexibility and balance
  • Improve bone health
  • Decrease cognitive impairment
  • Manage chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Manage lymphedema
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression

Exercise for Breast Cancer Recommendations

  •  Research from Edith Cowan University has found that exercising for 3hours + a week can reduce the risk of death by 50%.
  • Even completing at least 1 hr per week has benefits and decreased risk of death.
  • This is because exercise can reduce the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and the re-occurrence of cancer
  • Cardio toxicity post chemotherapy is very common due to damage to the heart muscle, however exercise can help reverse this
  • It has also been found that people who exercise during and post cancer treatment have a better quality of life, improved mood, physical function, cardio respiratory fitness and reduced fatigue

How can Inspire Fitness help?

The team of Exercise Physiologists at Inspire Fitness can tailor a program to help manage Breast Cancer during or after treatment.

Our Exercise Physiology process involves:

  • Initial assessment to understand other medical conditions, musculoskeletal injuries, goals and current treatment
  • An exercise program individualised to your needs and ability 
  • One on one Exercise Physiology sessions or a gym membership with regular contact and reviews
  • Continuous support, guidance and education

For more information ask one of our Exercise Physiology team members or contact Isabella on 9857 3007.

Summary:

  • Exercise has many benefits for women experiencing breast cancer, both during and after treatment
  • It is important to consult with an Exercise Physiologist to create a program to take into consideration side effects experienced and other co-morbidity
  • Exercise is something which can help bring an aspect of control into someone’s life to help them feel better during a difficult time
  • It may also be difficult to stay motivated and adherent to exercise during cancer treatment due to the fatigue, this is where an Exercise Physiologist can help to stay accountable