Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women. Historically, patients have been told to rest while going through the traditional forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation. Research now supports the opposite and we now understand that exercise is an integral part of a treatment plan and should be prescribed alongside chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal treatment and pre or post surgery.
Patients who exercise throughout treatment report a reduction in the severity of symptoms, an increased tolerance for aggressive forms of treatment, reduced cancer related fatigue and an improved quality of life.
Dr Prue Cormie puts it perfectly:
“If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. If we had a pill called exercise it would be demanded by cancer patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist, and subsidised by government.” (theconversation.com)
Exercise professionals can prescribe appropriate exercise, just as doctors can prescribe medication. The exercises prescribed should take into account many factors such as current abilities, treatment, whether surgery has been performed, and any medication the patient is taking. Level of energy and mental focus is also a huge consideration when prescribing exercise, so it is important to engage the help of an exercise professional to guide you through an appropriate exercise program.
Every little bit of exercise can help as you go through treatment, even a walk to your letter box and back. Each day should be dictated by your symptoms but it is important to remain as physically active as possible through treatment, and complete a mix of aerobic, strength and flexibility training into your program.
To get started, speak with your Doctor or Oncologist who can make the appropriate referral to an Exercise Physiologist, who can prescribe an appropriate exercise program and help you along the way.