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For Breast Cancer Survivors, Staying Active Is Critical

Golf tee with ball and breast cancer ribbon
 

Keeping the body healthy is imperative after surviving breast cancer. Unfortunately, many survivors don’t maintain this needed level of physical activity after they have left a supervised treatment program. According to a recent study, women who experienced a bolstering of their self-confidence and motivation during their rehabilitation periods were far more likely to continue exercise regimens on their own.

Honing the body with regular exercise can help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence as well as a host of other health issues. This is why there has been such an effort to support women who are not getting the appropriate amount of physical activity on a weekly basis.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is no better time to kick things into gear!

Keeping a healthy mind and body
Recent studies have focused on what factors can have the most influence on an individual’s ability to continue her exercises even after supervision has ended. When looking at a 12-month exercise program for older breast cancer survivors, it becomes clear that a healthier body is much more capable of fending off this disease. However, it takes a motivated mind to stay on the right track and continue the exercises when no one else is telling you to do so.

Evidence has shown that the breast cancer survivors who possess more self-confidence or self-efficacy are far more likely to overcome their physical fitness barriers and continue to stay active on their own. One study found that women with a higher self-efficacy score were 10% more likely to still be physically active six months after their rehabilitation had ended.

Strategies to help improve motivation and self-confidence
Fortunately, behavioral skills that can help increase an individual’s self-confidence and motivation can be taught. Breast cancer survivors can enlist the help of others for support and to help them identify any physical fitness barriers that they may be facing. There are also groups available that can provide breast cancer survivors with tried and proven strategies to help them through this process.

For breast cancer survivors, it is crucial to continue to meet physical activity guidelines. Regular exercise will help them reduce some of the common side effects of their cancer, including depression, weakness, fatigue, and weight gain. It is important for breast cancer survivors to avoid excessive weight gain after their treatment has ended, as this can significantly increase their risk of recurrence.

Some survivors may be able to improve their self-confidence by taking an exercise class that is led by a fellow cancer survivor. Just by seeing that their instructor has been able to overcome the same obstacles that they now face can provide a huge boost to motivation. Their instructor can become a role model through which they can live a healthier life.

Swapping the problem with a solution
Another effective measure for breast cancer survivors is counter-conditioning, or swapping one problem behavior with a positive behavior. Continuing to get the proper exercise after rehabilitation can be difficult, but it should start in gradual increments. It can be as simple as going for a long walk the next time you’re feeling a little stressed.

It is important to maintain a solid network of support during this time as well. Friends and family can provide the encouragement and support that breast cancer survivors need to stick to their exercise regimens.

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Comments
  • Ned October 31st, 2012 at 2:29 PM #1

    It’s so important to ensure you return to your optimal levels of health after an illness.sometimes the possibility of that repeating just doesn’t let you relax.and to ensure it doesn’t adequate care is required and what better way to feel great than to hone your mind and body to stay completely fit!

  • Linda Allen October 31st, 2012 at 2:33 PM #2

    There’s a lot to be said for keeping active, especially after you have come face to face with something as terrifying as a breast cancer diagnosis. I know that for many women the inclination has to been to curl up in bed and try to forget that this is happening. But this is not the answer, ladies! This causes an even bigger problem. The body likes to be active, even when healing, and the brain thrives on that exercise and activity too. Don’t become apathetic and give up. You deserve to fight for you body and your health because no one can do that for you but you.

  • Millie October 31st, 2012 at 3:40 PM #3

    The message should not be that for breast cancer survivors staying active is critical. This should be a universal message going out to anyone who is interested in staying healthy and maintaining a quality and productive life. I think that there should be even more emphasis in staying active all of the time in order to ward off so many diseases that we are now facing, and that this could even help prevent the onset of some, and yes, the healing and feeling of overcoming others.

  • Ashley November 1st, 2012 at 12:06 AM #4

    While its ready to be relived that the horrific episode is over once the treatment is complete,sticking to a fitness routine is just as difficult.I would think post-treatment support including checking on the patient from the doctor’s office and maybe even online sessions could help.They could act as reminders for the patient to look after herself an to follow a fitness routine.A little reminder could go a long way in this case.

  • Pauline November 1st, 2012 at 4:08 AM #5

    Just having the motivation to do this is difficult when you have lived through a cancer diagnosis.

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