When I was in the middle of my chemo treatments I remember asking an Oncologist what their opinion was the best thing to do to prevent a recurrence.
I was hoping that he was going to say “green smoothies” because I had been glugging those back BUT nope, he said “exercise”
Urgh, WHAT! I didn’t want to hear that! Exercise was not my thing, I never ran unless someone was chasing me.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a Doctor and this is not medical advice, it is merely my opinion. Please consult your Doctor before you start any exercise regime.
But unfortunately (fortunately!) one of the biggest studies on Breast Cancer research had determined that exercise really did prevent recurrence.
The Benefits of Exercise
Now, I’m not a Doctor, but my interpretation of that is it creates a domino effect – once you start working out, you realize the benefits of eating healthily etc.
THIS article I found backs up this claim:
New research examines some of the lifestyle factors that influence breast cancer recurrence rates.
The research was conducted by Dr. Ellen Warner, of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada, in collaboration with co-author Dr. Julia Hamer, and the findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
The study consists of a meta-analysis of 67 articles that examine several lifestyle choices, including exercise, weight management, dietary patterns, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
Lifestyle Factor Affecting Recurrence
Of all the lifestyle factors reviewed, physical activity and avoiding weight gain seem to have the most beneficial effect on the odds of breast cancer recurrence.
The Researchers comment:
Of all lifestyle factors, physical activity has the most robust effect on breast cancer outcomes. Weight gain of more than 10 percent body weight after a breast cancer diagnosis increases breast cancer mortality and all-cause mortality. However, there are good reasons to discourage even moderate weight gain because of its negative effects on mood and body image.”
Women who are overweight or obese seem to have the lowest chances of survival. By contrast, women who exercise moderately – 30 minutes of physical activity every day, 5 days a week, or 75 weekly minutes of intense exercise – significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer death.
As a survivor, my intention is not to scare you in any way. I understand how you feel when you have just been diagnosed, but once you are done with treatment and feeling a lot better, it is time to start evaluating your health.
Myself included, I’m 4 years out and the weight has crept on a little and now is the time to sort it out! So let’s encourage each other.
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So after I found out about the benefits of exercise, I decided that I needed to work out and my goal was to start as soon as I had finished radiation.
To be honest I felt pretty good during radiation so I bought a second-hand treadmill and stuck it in my garage (it’s like hot yoga only on a treadmill!)
How to Begin Exercising
When deciding on a treadmill, look for something that is quite sturdy and that has inclines, this means it will go up and down and make you feel like you are walking or running up a hill which is a better workout.
I decided on the Couch to 5K program and I would highly recommend it.
It starts really, really slow as in run for 2 minutes – which I will admit was hard in the beginning if you are a non-runner!
Slowly but surely I started to build up my stamina and it really was quite remarkable how amazing I felt!
How to Set Yourself A Goal
My goal was to run a 5K and I signed up for the Susan G Komen 5K in downtown Austin.
I started training in the middle of August and the race was in early November.
And I did it! I clearly remember the first time I ran 20 minutes without stopping, it was such an incredible feeling, truly amazing. Actually one of the highlights of my life!
The day of the race was nerve-wracking but I had a great support team so that makes a huge difference and I ran the whole entire way (very slowly, but running nevertheless).
I would love, love, love to encourage you to start exercising (with your Doctor’s approval of course!). And to believe in yourself, I am 45, I never, in a million years, thought that I would actually start running!!
Here is a glimpse of the Couch to 5K training program:
One of the most motivating factors to working out is to invest in some workout gear that makes you feel good.
You really don’t need to spend a ton of money and I’ve sourced some really inexpensive workout gear for you to look at, it really does make a difference if you have something cute to wear, not to mention ready to wear.
If you can grab your clothes quickly it will help with
I once read a tip, sleep in your workout clothes and jump up in the morning ready to go! I’ve done it a few times and I have to say it really works (although not as comfy as PJs!
Super Cute Under $25 Workout Clothes
I would love to know how you are getting on with your exercise program, we all need to motivate each other, no matter how small the steps are, you’ve got this!