Now is a great time to begin to take better care of yourselfby getting active.  You may have always been active or being active may be a new change for you.  Some of the benefits of being active may be less fatigue and better energy levels.  Getting active may also help to combat feeling blue.  Being more active is something positive that you can do about your health.  Your risk of getting other health problems can be lowered by getting active.  Some of the long term effects from treatment may also be made better by being more active.

Getting active includes a focus on two areas.  They are aerobic and strength exercises.  Aerobic exercise is any activity that makes your heart beat faster and makes you breathe more rapidly, but not so much that you can’t sustain the activity for more than a few minutes.  Some activities that fall into this group are walking, biking, dancing, and swimming.  Strength exercises are aimed at improving the strength and flexibility of certain muscles.

Getting active is a process and will take time.  The US Surgeon General suggests that you get about 30 minutes of medium level exercise most days of the week.  This can be done 10-15 minutes at a time and total 30 minutes in a day.  If you have not been very active, it may take several weeks to work up to this level. You should talk with your doctor about any activities that you plan to try.  Never start a new exercise program without getting your doctor’s approval.

You may know what you want to do to try to get more active.  For instance, you may know that you want to walk.  You may have no idea where to start.  Here are some things to think about as you seek an activity to help you get fit.  It should be:


Keeping these things in mind will improve your odds of success at getting fit.  The goals of exercise after breast cancer include these:

  • Better movement and strength in the affected side.
  • Lower your risk of Lymphedema.
  • Improve your endurance.
  • Reduce your risk for bone loss.
  • Improve heart health.
  • Increase your feeling of well being.

Walking is a very easy way to get fit.  It takes very little planning.  You can do it in the area where you live or somewhere else.  You can vary where you walk.  You don’t need a lot of costly gear to walk.  It may be easy to get someone else to walk with you.  You are not limited to a certain time of the day.  You can start out with a short distance and slow pace.  Then you can work over time to a faster, longer walk.

You may ask WHY WALK?

  • To reduce stress.
  • To give you more energy.
  • To tone muscles.
  • To burn more calories.
  • To strengthen bones and muscles.
  • To lower your chance of getting other health problems.
  • To make you feel good.

Before starting a walking program:

  • Check with your doctor.  Make sure that there are no medical reasons that would make it unwise to start walking.
  • See that you have good shoes.  You need proper support for your feet to prevent injury.  When you go to purchase walking shoes, wear the socks that you plan to use.  Also walk around the store to make sure that they are the right shoe for you.
  • Don’t forget to stretch! As we age, the need for stretching, warm up and cool down becomes greater. The best way to avoid pain is to prevent it!
  • Always warm up.  Walk the first 5 minutes slowly before picking up the pace.
  • Think about your heart rate and your breathing.  You should be able to talk while walking.
  • Use good posture.  Swing your arms.  Keep your head up and stand up straight and tall.
  • Keep track of the length of time you walk or the distance that you go.
  • Carry water if it is hot or you plan to walk for a long distance.
  • Change the scenery.  Walk in a different area some of the times.
  • Find a buddy or some good music to walk with.
  • Don’t forget to make it fun! You’re more likely do an exercise if it’s fun for you.
  • Change up your exercise. The more times you do a certain type of exercise in a row, the fewer calories you will burn. Try something new or rotate exercises every few weeks.
  • Try something new! Running in a pool is a better work out than running on land, and has much less impact on joints.

If you have given it some thought and done the things listed, it is time to start.  Put on those shoes, and leave the house.  Set a time or distance to go on your first day out.  Some people start with 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back.  That means that you go 5 minutes and then turn around and come back.  Always start out slowly and warm up.  Then get your pace up to where you feel a little warm and are breathing a little more frequently than at rest.  Try to do this about 4 times a week.  Adjust your pace and distance as you need.  A good guideline to use to increase what you are doing is to add 10% a week.  If you are walking 10 minutes the first week, then add 1 minute and walk 11 minutes each day of the second week.  Keep on doing this until you have reached your goal. You will find that over time you are able to walk at a brisker pace.

  • Yoga has been studied and shown to have a great impact on quality of life in breast cancer survivors (including decreased pain and fatigue), saying that they felt better after completing a yoga class. There are many videos available to do yoga in your own home, but it’s important to use correct form, and avoid doing moves that cause sharp pain. ( : search for yoga for breast cancer, there are several chapters or go to the Yoga For Cancer Channel at
  • gives various examples of different types of exercise and stretching.
  • As we age, weight can creep on, and the goal is to maintain your level of activity. Eat less; move more is a common phrase used to illustrate the way we should think when this becomes a problem. If you cannot exercise comfortably while standing, consider exercises while you sit.
  • “Exercise” alternatives:  This website will tell you how many calories you burn for various activities even if they don’t seem like exercise.
  • Gardening can be a great way to add activity into your day, burning about 60 calories every 10 minutes.
  • Doing housework burns around 30 calories every 10 minutes
  • Ironing clothes and shopping burn around 25 calories every 10 minutes.
  • Playing cards burns around 15 calories in 10 minutes
  • Carrying a baby can burn around 40 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Sleeping burns about 10 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Water aerobics burns 45 calories in 10 minutes
  • Mopping the floor burns 50 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Calisthenic work outs (such as jumping, hopping, push ups) burns 50 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Playing with kids can burn 45 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Cycling or spinning can burn 80 to 130 calories in 10 minutes depending on the intensity.
  • Dancing can burn 30 to 60 calories in 10 minutes depending on the speed of the dance.
  • Gentle stretching can burn up to 45 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Yoga burns anywhere from 30 to 80 calories in 10 minutes depending on the intensity of your workout!

When Do You Need To Seek Help?
Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.  Also talk with them about any problems that you may have when you start getting active.  Your health team may be able to offer you more options to get active.


Useful websites:
Exercise Benefits
Website for aging and exercise:
Yoga for Breast Cancer-Introduction
Live Strong: The Limitless Potential of You
Breast Why Exercise? Breast cancer survivors: Nutrition and fitness tips
Exercise Tips
US Govt Weight-control Information Network

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