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Exercising for Breast Cancer Patients

Annie Pipkin, ACE CPT

October 21, 2020

From October 1st to October 31st, everywhere seems to have a hint of pink in it somehow. Businesses have pink versions of their logos, pro sports teams have pink accents in their jerseys, and many individuals have added a pink ribbon to their uniform. As I’m sure you already know, the month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The month focuses on driving home the importance of routine screenings and honoring survivors and warriors. While annual screenings are crucial in early detection, exercise is an essential step in breast cancer prevention and benefits those currently in breast cancer treatment. 

Almost everywhere you look, there’s a new gym opening or a new fitness craze flooding your social media feed, and this is no random coincidence. Regular exercise not only provides immediate benefits but adds to your wealth in the future, like being a preventative measure for breast cancer and lowering your risks of breast cancer recurrence.

Hormones such as estrogen and insulin can feed breast cancer growth, and (although not completely understood how) exercise helps regulate these hormones. Physical activity also helps women maintain a healthy weight, which keeps the immune system strong and further regulates estrogen and insulin. With exercise, your body is better prepared to regulate hormones and can fight off additional threats. 

Not only can exercise provide preventative measures, but exercise can also give an abundance of benefits to individuals currently in their breast cancer journey. A routine exercise plan can alleviate some of the side effects that are experienced with breast cancer treatments. Exercising can reduce the side effects of fatigue, osteoporosis, and the build-up of excess fluid, which is commonly known as lymphoedema. Furthermore, exercising can help you get into a better headspace throughout treatment. By completing just 20-30 minutes of physical activity, you can decrease your stress and anxiety while increasing your mood! 

The best way to get into routine exercise is by starting with small steps and completing the activities you enjoy, for example, walking your dog down the street compared to just letting them in the back yard, playing a light game of tag or hide and seek with your children and grandchildren, or spending some time gardening. Some days are more challenging than others, but even when you are not feeling your best, a little activity like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help ease discomfort and boost your mood. 

Try this low-intensity, quick interval workout:
 (in the comfort of your own home too!)

Do each activity for 40 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat 4 times! 

Flutter Kicks

Work that core! Make sure to keep your heels and shoulders off the ground the entire duration to engage your entire abdomen.

Hip Bridge

Eyes to the sky, upper back stays in contact with the ground, and weight is in your heels as you squeeze through the back of your legs. Think: 1 count driving hips up and 2 counts slow and control back down. 

Plank Shoulder Taps

Hands under shoulders, hips tucked under and in line with your spine as you alternate opposite hand tapping opposite shoulder. If you need, take it down to your knee to lighten the load a little!

Full Burpee

A true crowd favorite! Make sure you are taking your chest all the way down to the ground, getting the ENTIRE body engaged! Feel free to take away the jump at the top to lower the impact even more. Burpee option: take a water bottle in each hand, perform a squat, and then an overhead press to keep full-body engagement! 

Triceps Dips

When I dip, you dip, we dip! Hands behind you on the edge of a stable surface (ottoman, chair, workout bench) and slowly lower your body feeling the backside of your upper arms start to light up. 

Annie Pipkin

Exercise. (2019, June 22)

Simon, S. (2018, October 12). Get Moving to Help Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from

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