The Benefits of Exercise for Breast Cancer


Image Source: / Stuart Miles

The Benefits of Exercise for Breast Cancer

Exercising when you have breast cancer is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  In fact, it was one of the few things that my oncologist and I could agree upon!

After I was finished with all of my treatments, I took part in an Australian study on the benefits of exercise after breast cancer.  I joined a gym and  attended at least three days per week – even though there were many days when I really was not in the mood to go, I went anyway.  I did this for eight weeks, and at the conclusion of the study I felt so much better, I just kept up with my gym membership and continued going.  I also did yoga and walking on the days when I wasn’t in the gym.

Exercising made sense to me, for several reasons:

  1. Research shows that excess fat on your body puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer (and I didn’t want it back!)
  2. It helps your body detox after all the treatments
  3. Exercise brings fresh oxygen into your body and I was aware that cancer HATES oxygen, it thrives in anaerobic conditions
  4. It increases muscle strength and bone density and reduces risk of injury
  5. It lowers blood pressure
  6. All those feel-good endorphins that exercise releases help psychological health
  7. It prolongs life by fortifying your immune system, helping you control weight and providing you with energy and stamina

Research Shows Exercise Helps With Radiotherapy, Depression, Anxiety

In 1997, a group of researchers in the UK followed 46 women beginning a six-week program of radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer.  The exercise group scored significantly higher than the group that didn’t exercise on physical functioning and symptom intensity, particularly fatigue, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. [1]

Another research study done in the UK in 1998 followed 24 breast cancer survivors (mean time following surgery 41.8 months; ranging from 1 to 99 months) with an average age of 48.9 years.  They were followed for 10 weeks and asked to do aerobic exercise 4 days per week, 30-40 minutes/session.  The study revealed that women who exercised had significantly less depression and anxiety compared to those who did not exercise. [2]

2017 Update:  Yoga and other mind-body interventions can play a large part of the healing process as well. A 2017 review of 18 research studies looked at how yoga and other mind-body interventions such as qi gong, tai chi and meditation impacted health. The researchers found mind-body interventions change the expression of genes associated with chronic inflammation (and we all know that cancer is an inflammatory process), as well as having many other wide-ranging health benefits. [3]

What Sort of Exercise Is Best?

This is a hotly debated topic.  Some think that you need to get out there and sweat and work your butt off for exercise to be therapeutic but that simply isn’t the case.  A good 45-minute yoga session can be just as effective on body and mind as going for a run.

Some outgoing women love to dance and will join dance classes.  Some prefer gentle stretching and the mind/body connection that yoga provides, while others would much rather go for a solo walk in the woods with their dog.  My best advice is to do what you love because you are more apt to do it more frequently if you love it.

Hate to Exercise?

If you don’t love exercise, here are some ideas for you:

  • Get a stationary bicycle and read while you’re on it – or watch your favorite TV show
  • Walk or run to the grocery store to buy one or two items
  • Try Zumba, it’s a blast
  • Water aerobics can be fun
  • Buy a yoga or dance or aerobics DVD by somebody who’s nice to look at!
  • Try belly dancing or tennis or roller blading
  • Get a workout buddy and make a pact to keep exercising even when you don’t feel like it – research shows that if someone else’s workout depends on yours, you will be more likely to exercise, so as not to disappoint or let down the other person
  • Get an iPod and choose music you love to exercise to and put that on a playlist – music can be a great distraction
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park your car at the far end of the parking lot
  • If your kids have a PlayStation or Wii, there are dancing games and fitness programs you might enjoy
  • Gardening is good exercise
  • Hiking is rewarding and great exercise
  • Play Frisbee with your kids or grandkids (or your dog!)

We have to stop thinking about exercise as a nuisance. Our bodies were designed to move!  Once you find the thing that you love to do, it becomes a joy and you really notice the difference on the days you don’t exercise.  So get out there and move!


[1] Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer —;jsessionid=tUx3m0KS51NQDcfbZZjz.0

[2] The effect of aerobic exercise on self-esteem and depressive and anxiety symptoms among breast cancer survivors –

[3] What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices –

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If You Don’t Think Yoga Can Change Your Life, Check This Out!

If you are one of those who doesn’t think yoga can change your life, you have to see this YouTube video.

The Story of Arthur

I happened to see a few minutes of “The Revolution” at lunchtime today while I was turning on my DVR to check out the latest “True Blood” episode (well, I can’t help it, I love that show!) and I saw this amazing, inspiring guy by the name of Arthur Boorman.

Arthur was a Gulf War veteran who had been disabled – he was a paratrooper and all those repeated hard landings had been extremely vicious to his back and knees.  He struggled with pain, obesity, leg braces and doctors who told him he’d never walk unassisted again.

A chance mention of yoga by his wife led Arthur to do some research on-line and he found Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga and Arthur decided to take his healing into his own hands.

Arthur totally transformed his life – truly inspiring story.  Watch the video and stay with it to the end – the before and after pictures are so amazing, I can’t even believe it’s the same guy!

Arthur’s Secret

Arthur says there was only one secret for him – consistency and discipline.  He worked hard at it every day.  You can do the same thing with YOUR life.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

The Most Helpful Yoga Position After Latissimus Dorsi Flap Surgery

Fabulous After Latissimus Dorsi Flap Breast Reconstruction

If you’ve just had a breast reconstruction and your surgeon utilized the Latissimus Dorsi Flap procedure, you’ll want to know about this helpful yoga position called Balasana.

Once your incisions have healed, the drains have been removed, you are no longer sore and your surgeon says it’s okay, I recommend doing this yoga position just as soon as you can manage it.

Click here to see the video (skip the ad!).

Don’t worry if you can’t get into the position initially, it’s most likely something you can work towards.  Just go as far as is comfortable for you on the day.

Why To Do It!

While this type of breast reconstruction surgery can be wonderful and give you back your figure, it can provide problems.

This surgery can really curtail your range of motion on the affected side if you are not proactive.

I found this particular yoga position so beneficial because it’s gentle, it really helped with my range of motion, it cuts down on adhesions (which can be caused by the newly formed uniting tissues – adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation) and really helps you to reclaim your body.

I also found deep tissue massage to be extremely beneficial.

How Often?

Do this yoga position at least 5 times a week!  It doesn’t take long, and it really does help so much.  May it be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship between you and yoga.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Image Source: / creativedoxfoto

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Anyone going through chemotherapy will know that there is a diverse range of side effects, ranging from mild to severe, and some are quite disruptive to your quality of life, hence today’s article.

I went through breast cancer in 2004 and although I initially chose not to have chemotherapy, a few things factored into my decision and led me to believe it would be beneficial for me so I went through 6 months of various chemotherapy drugs.  I have to say that the anti-nausea pills that are prescribed these days do a remarkably good job. I never once vomited during the entire 6 months of my chemotherapy regimen – that really surprised me!  I managed to stay incredibly well during the entire process and I’d like to share my list of the things that helped me the most.

Quite possibly you may have different results but if even only one thing on the list helps you, I’ll be happy with that result!

Here’s my list of the 8 crucial things that helped me reduce chemotherapy side effects:

1.  Meditation & Positive Thinking – the first thing I had to do was to quit thinking about the chemotherapy in a negative light – like it was something to be scared of.  I worked hard on this and managed to come up with a meditation that I would do each time I sat down for the treatment (if you’d like to sign up for my newsletters, I’ll share the exact meditation I did with you).  I envisioned the drugs entering my system as being a healing golden or white light (use a color that works for you personally) that moved through my entire body and eradicated any little weakling of a cancer cell (also important to think of the cancer cells as weak and easily overcome by the chemotherapy).  This was a very calming thing to do and helped with anxiety.

2. Juicing of Organic Fruit & Vegetables – I juiced in the morning before my chemotherapy appointments (and every morning afterward too) and took the juice with me in a stainless steel thermos.  I sipped it once I’d finished my meditation.  My favorite was a combination of carrot, beet (a potent anti-cancer veggie), apple and ginger.  Fresh ginger helps a lot with nausea and adds a spicy zest to the juice.  You don’t need too much, just about a 1″ knob of it.  I juiced every morning – for more information on the best things to juice, go to my page Diet and Cancer

3.  Supplementation – Certain supplements can actually increase the effectiveness of your chemotherapy, reduce the toxicity of it and help you to sail through chemotherapy without too much trouble. Contact me if you’d like a list of them.

4. Yoga and Walking – it is so important to keep moving!  If you’re tired, just slow down and do what you can.  Movement therapy helps you to detox, it helps your state of mind, it even helps constipation.

5.  Acupuncture   Believe it or not, acupuncture can help to reduce the side effects and toxicity of the chemotherapy. It can also help to reduce the chances of suffering with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). If you begin your course of acupuncture at around the same time as you commence chemotherapy, it has the absolute best protective effect for your nerves.

6. The Power of Prayer – don’t underestimate this!  Tell your friends when you’re going for each dose of chemotherapy and have them spend 5 minutes actively saying a prayer for you to coincide with your appointment time.  You will be amazed at how uplifted you feel.  Powerful stuff.  I did this prior to surgery too.

7.  Laughter – I had a best friend who’d take along some kind of gag gift or joke book or something silly – she’d get the whole place chuckling.  Laughter is good medicine!

8. Massage or Reiki – get some bodywork regularly.  It makes a huge difference to how you feel when going through chemotherapy.

The combination of these 8 things got me through 6 months of chemotherapy with a minimum of side effects and problems.  I hope this helps you!

If you’d like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.


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