As part of breast cancer treatment, many survivors are on estrogen blockers, and while estrogen is commonly known as a "sex hormone," it also plays a really important role in our metabolism. This is why for many women, breast cancer or not, it can be harder to lose weight or keep additional weight off after menopause. When estrogen blockers throw younger breast cancer survivors into menopause prematurely, it can feel like “cards feel stacked against us” when it comes to managing one's weight. Plus, the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis can lead to more cortisol, the "stress hormone," in our systems, thus making it even harder to lose weight.
Even if exercise feels like a Sisyphean task to try to lose weight, remember that there are so many other benefits to exercise beyond the number on the scale. Exercise can help regulate hormones, improve mood, strength, and cardiovascular health, and be an opportunity to connect with others. If you are looking to incorporate more movement and activity into your life, join us for our Movement Monday series with Yoga Nidra next Monday, July 19th.
Yes, You Can! Tips for Exercising with Breast Cancer (Healthline)
Here are some things to keep in mind while exercising during treatment.
Always talk to your physicians and especially a lymphedema specialist before embarking on an exercise program. They may recommend for you to be fitted with a compression sleeve to help minimize the swelling in your arm.
The routine you used to do before cancer may not be appropriate during treatment. Your doctor can also help clear you on which exercises you can do on your own and which you may need help from a physical therapist. Read More.
A new study has focused on the effects of exercise and physical activity on postmenopausal breast cancer survivors taking Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs), hormone-therapy drugs that stop the production of estrogen. The work concludes that a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise helps mitigate the side effects of AIs and improves health outcomes in breast cancer survivors, particularly their body composition. Read More.
Breast Cancer Survivors and Group Exercise (IDEA Health & Fitness)
Exercise can also be a way to socialize and connect with others when you participate in group fitness classes.
A study by researchers at Colorado State University found that group exercise designed specifically for people surviving breast cancer resulted in more improvements to quality of life than similar exercise programming led by personal trainers. Additionally, participants of the group exercise classes were more likely to stick with their exercise routines.
"While all subjects’ physical fitness measures improved, participants in group training experienced higher measures of overall physical activity and quality of life." Read More.
Exercise and Breast Cancer (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Exercise doesn't need to be intense to offer benefits. Even gentle activity like daily walking can improve emotional and physical wellbeing during cancer treatment. Listen to your body and what it needs; this might change from day to day. If you already exercise regularly pre-treatment, keep it up as you feel able, allowing rest when your body asks for it.
As you move past treatment and into survivorship, you will want to consider the benefits of each type, and develop a fitness plan that works for you. Cardiovascular exercises like running, biking, or swimming can be helpful in managing stress and maintaining a sense of well-being. Read More.