Breast Cancer and the Benefits of Exercise

Benefits of Exercise

For women diagnosed with breast cancer, regular exercise during and following treatment has been shown, through a number of different studies, to improve:​

  • Physical health​
  • ​Emotional well being​
  • Overall quality of life

It can also help to improve body composition, muscle strength, confidence, mood, depression and anxiety.​

Preservation or ImprovementsReductions
​Muscle mass, strength and power​Number of symptoms and side effects​
Physical function​Intensity of symptoms​
Cardiorespiratory fitness​Duration of hospitalisation​
Physical activity levels​Psychological and emotional distress​
Range of motion​Depression and anxiety​
Immune function​Chemotherapy completion rates​
Body image, self esteem and mood​
Ref:[1:46 pm] Chandrika Gibson PhD Sandra C. Hayes, Robert U. Newton, Rosalind R. Spence, Daniel A. Galvão, The Exercise and Sports Science Australia position statement: Exercise medicine in cancer management, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 22, Issue 11, 2019

Exercise Benefits

Evidence also shows that exercise may also reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back. A 2019 systematic review found survivors who were physically active had a 40% lower risk of death than those who were sedentary.​

Spei ME, Samoli E, Bravi F, et al. Physical activity in breast cancer survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis on overall and breast cancer survival. Breast 2019; 44:144-152.​

Exercise Recommendations

  • 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 to 100 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of each intensity each week. This physical activity can be done in episodes of any length.​
  • Muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week​
  • Balance training, in addition to aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity

Ref: 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.​

Benefits of Home based exercise

Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to occur outside of the home. A recent Edith Cowan University study found that home-based resistance and aerobic exercise during radiotherapy is safe, feasible, and effective in accelerating cancer related fatigue (CRF) recovery and improving health-related quality of life (HRQoL).