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How exercise helps breast cancer survivors

HOW exercise helps breast cancer survivors includes easing treatment-related side effects, reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence and the risk of developing breast cancer in the first place.

How Exercise Helps You Cope With Breast Cancer

how exercise helps breast cancer survivors

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and walk three or more hours a week, you have a lower risk of dying of breast cancer than those who exercise less. A study, after adjusting for factors such as smoking and diet, found that exercise lowered the rate of recurrence no matter what size the cancer was when it was diagnosed. When compared to women who walked less than three hours per week, those who walked three to five hours saw the greatest drop in mortality risk; a 50% reduction over 4 to 18 years. In addition, researchers found 72% less cancer spread in participants who regularly engaged in high-intensity aerobic activity.

Exercise works by regulating your hormones including estrogen and insulin, which can fuel breast cancer growth. Also, regular exercise helps you stay at a healthy weight, which helps regulate hormones and helps keep the immune system healthier. Besides, during cancer treatment, exercise improves your body’s response to treatment no matter the stage or type of cancer.

The best form of exercise for you, once you feel comfortable, includes jogging, cycling (stationary bikes are fine), swimming, or brisk walks. This aerobic form of exercise can help you burn calories, lose weight and build cardiovascular fitness.

How Exercise Helps Breast Cancer Survivors

And if you’re a breast cancer survivor, exercise can improve fatigue, your mental well-being, physical function, and quality of life. So, if you’re recovering from breast cancer, avoid inactivity. Try to be as physically active as your condition allows.

What’s more, a study of 1,340 breast cancer patients showed that those who met 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, both before diagnosis and after treatment, had a 55% lower risk of recurrence and a 68% lower risk of mortality.

However, your ability to exercise during and after treatment depends on what your overall health and physical condition were before your diagnosis. If you didn’t exercise at all before you were diagnosed, then it’s a good idea to start slowly and carefully. But, if you exercised regularly before your diagnosis, then scaling back a bit on your old routine may help you feel more like yourself. Either way, it’s important you have your doctor’s OK before you start exercising

How Exercise Prevents Recurrence And Raises Survival Rates

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Physical activity may lower hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone, thereby suppressing cancer growth and recurrence. Also, exercise decreases insulin resistance, a condition linked to breast cancer. This is when sugar accumulates in the blood because muscle, fat, and liver cells don’t use insulin properly. In addition, exercise reduces the risk of weight gain, which is known to lower the survival rate of breast cancer patients.

How Exercise Lowers Your Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

Exercise can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Studies found that women who exercise have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t exercise. Also, maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise can help regulate hormones, reduce inflammation, and keep your immune system healthy. 

In general, exercise may help you have fewer and less severe side effects from treatment. Research shows that exercise can help:

  • Ease fatigue
  • Lessen anxiety
  • Improve the quality of life
  • Reduce the risk of lymphedema
  • Improve physical function
  • Strengthen bones
  • Improve sleep
  • Ease bone and joint pain

Bottom Line

how exercise helps breast cancer survivors

Finally, how exercise helps breast cancer survivors supports the findings that women with breast cancer have little to lose and perhaps much to gain from being active. This is because it’s already a fact that women with breast cancer who exercise have better moods, body image, and a lower risk of recurrence. Now research also shows that exercise may also help women avoid dying from breast cancer.

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