How you exercised before being diagnosed with breast cancer can set the stage for your continued recovery. If you were active and exercised regularly, you may feel frustrated by your low energy level during your treatments. Adapting your previous level of exercise in your life may be challenging, but also can introduce you to many other forms of exercise, many of which will be discussed in Chapter 11. Maintaining your exercise routine is very important during breast cancer treatment as long as it is tempered to meet your physical needs and your energy level. It is also important to ask your oncologist what is recommended for your specific situation. For example, if you have had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, you will have to follow your surgeon's advice and recommendations on how to exercise.
In Her Own Words
Energy is diminished with surgery, chemo, and/or radiation, so modify your normal exercise routine. Surgery can take a toll, so I hired a personal trainer who had experience with breast cancer patients and we worked on strength training for the chest and arms. I didn't have energy to run, but walking in the fresh air helped both physically and emotionally.
— Nanci, age 55, 1-year survivor
Your daily exercise routine has a big impact on your sense of normalcy and feelings of well-being, so it is encouraged by health care professionals. The benefits of exercise, whether running, walking, or lifting weights, are well documented. Endorphins that are released with exercise bring a feeling of elation. In breast cancer treatment, you may need to adapt your previous exercise routine temporarily and enjoy being introduced to some alternative modes of exercising your mind, body, and spirit.