Exercise and breast cancer

Women on treadmill exercise

Getting regular exercise during and following your breast cancer treatment can have many benefits. It can improve your physical and emotional wellbeing and improve your quality of life. Exercise can help manage treatment and cancer-related side effects such as fatiguepain and lymphoedema and lowered bone density. It can also improve mood, sleep, body weight, muscle strength, confidence, depression and anxiety. More and more research is showing that exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) if you’ve been diagnosed, as well as reducing the risk of developing breast cancer if you’ve never been diagnosed.

How much exercise should I do?

Research suggests that some exercise is better than none, and more is generally better than less.  It is recommended that women diagnosed with breast cancer complete the same level of exercise recommended for all Australian adults by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing –at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. You can achieve this by doing 30 minutes of exercise five days of the week.

If you are currently undergoing treatment and are just starting to exercise, or if you have not exercised for a while, it is important to gradually build up to the recommended amount of exercise. To do this, you can break down your 30 minutes of exercise into shorter periods throughout the day, for example, exercise for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.

What type of exercise?

It doesn’t really matter what type of activity you do, the important thing is to do something you enjoy. Working out with friends or in a group can help with motivation and structured programs can ensure you are getting the maximum benefits from your exercise. There are a number of exercise programs that are specifically designed for people affected by breast cancer, offering a range of different group and individual programs.

The Vario Health Clinic – Part of the exercise medicine research institute at ECU in Joondalup. The clinic offers individual consulting assessments and wellness programs, including exercise, dietetics, clinical psychology and physiotherapy.  Please get in touch with reception on 6304 3444 or go to www.exercisemedicine.org.au. Medicare rebates may apply if you have been referred through a GP management plan or GP mental health plan.

YWCA ENCORE is an 8-week free exercise program for ladies recovering from breast cancer. Encore is explicitly designed for women who have experienced mastectomy lumpectomy or breast reconstruction surgery based around pool and land exercises. The free program runs for two hours a week for eight weeks. To register, please call 1800 305 150 or email [email protected].  https://www.ywcaencore.org.au/.

Breast cancer rehabilitation (Pink Crusaders) – Curtin Sport and Recreation – For people undergoing or recovering from breast cancer treatment. The program provides guided exercise assisting rehabilitation in a supportive environment. Run by accredited Exercise physiologists. For more information call 9266 7870 or click here to visit the website.

Life Now exercise and meditative courses – offers introductory Exercise, Meditation,  Mindfulness, Tai Chi and Yoga courses at locations across Western Australia. Courses are free of charge for people affected by cancer and their primary carers, thanks to generous community donations. All courses are delivered by experienced facilitators in a safe and supportive environment. For more information click here or call
13 11 20.   

 Amazons Perth Dragon Boat Club was founded in 2000. They are a member group of BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia) and cater for breast cancer survivors and supporters through dragon boat paddling. They find the active, vigorous exercise of paddling enhances physical and emotional well-being within a context of caring companionship. Contact Dililys on 0428 249 396 or go to amazonsperth.com.au/home     

There is lots of great information on the web about the benefits of exercise and breast cancer. For more information check out these links: