Several side effects of breast cancer treatment negatively affect the quality of life and increase the risk of several comorbidities. The patients experience a significant reduction in muscular strength and cardiopulmonary fitness, and there is an increased depression, fatigue, and anxiety. Exercise plays a vital role in managing these side effects. The patient may take the services of oncology exercise experts that are available at the best hospital for breast cancer treatment in Nashik.
Performing exercise after breast cancer treatment
There are several benefits of performing exercise after breast cancer treatment. These are:
- Improved physical well-being: The physical well-being of the patients is significantly affected due to breast cancer treatment. The side effects of the treatment include reduced mobility and upper-extremity function, cardiopulmonary fitness, and increased body weight. Exercise interventions after breast cancer treatment reduce body fat and waist circumference, increase lean body mass, and improve cardiopulmonary fitness. An exercise program for a period of 3 to 8 months improves muscle strength and balance.
- Improved emotional well-being: Breast cancer survivors also have an effect on their psychological and psychosocial health after treatment. There is also a negative effect on the quality of life. Young breast cancer survivors, who had participated in the 8-week progressive whole-body resistance exercise program, have a significantly improved quality of life. It has been reported that a three or six-month combined exercise program improves sensory fatigue, behavioral fatigue, cognitive fatigue, affective fatigue, and overall total fatigue in breast cancer survivors.
- Lymphedema management: Several studies substantiated the claim that exercise in breast cancer survivors helps in managing lymphedema. Progressive resistance exercise reduces the exacerbation of lymphedema-related symptoms. Slow and progressive resistance exercises done while wearing compression garments protect the lymphedema flare-ups. One study has reported that progressive resistance exercise may result in less risk of breast cancer-related lymphedema, and it did not worsen the arm volume or severity of symptoms.
- Maintenance of bone mineral density: There is a risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures due to several breast cancer treatments. Drugs such as aromatase inhibitors increase bone loss. Both aerobic and resistance exercises find their use in reducing bone loss. There are reports that exercise may help in maintaining bone mineral density. (as confirmed with the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) in breast cancer survivors. Resistance exercise is traditionally used for preventing the loss or maintenance of bone mineral density. Aerobic exercise may also help in improving bone health.
- Reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence: There is an association between moderate exercise and reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence. However, the timing of the exercise with respect to a cancer diagnosis is important. A meta-analysis reported that participation in an exercise regimen after diagnosis results in 34% less death due to cancer and 41% lesser deaths from all causes. There is also a reduction of 24% in cancer recurrence.
Types of exercises
The breast cancer survivor may perform various exercises after completing the treatment. It is important to consult with the breast cancer surgeons in Nashik before performing these exercises to determine which exercise is best for a particular survivor. Some of the exercises are:
- Elbow winging: This exercise improves the movement of the shoulder and chest. This exercise can be performed on the bed or the floor. Lie on the floor or bed with your face towards the roof, feet flat, and knees bent. Clasp the hand below the head and point your elbows towards the roof. Move the elbow towards the floor away from each other. Repeat the process 5 to 7 times.
- Shoulder blade squeeze: This exercise improves posture. Sit on a chair with a straight head. Avoid laying your back on the chair. Keep your hand on the sides and bend the elbows. Squeeze both shoulder blades simultaneously by bringing the elbows near the spine. Avoid lifting your shoulder up near the ears. Repeat the process 5 to 7 times.
- Wand exercise: This exercise improves shoulder movement in the forward direction. Perform this exercise on the floor or bed. Take a broom or handle. Lie on the bed or floor with your face upwards, feet flat, and knees bent. Hold the broom or handle with both hands and keep it near the belly. Lift it upwards as far as you can over your head. Maintain this position for 5 seconds. Repeat the process 5 to 7 times.
- Shoulder blade stretch: This exercise improves the movement of your shoulder blade. Sit on a chair near the table by placing your back against the chair. Place the arm (the arm on the side with no breast surgery) on the table with the elbow bent. Avoid moving this arm during the exercise. Place the other arm in a similar position. Extend the affected arm towards the opposite end of the table. Relax the arm and repeat the process 5 to 7 times.
- Chest wall stretch: This exercise helps in stretching the chest. Select a corner and stand at least 10 inches away from the corner. Place both hands on the opposite walls of the corner with elbows bent. The elbows should be at the height of the shoulders. Move the chest toward the wall without moving the feet and the elbows. There will be a stretch on the chest wall and the shoulders. Repeat the process 5 to 7 times.