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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