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Fitness Tips for Breast Cancer Survivors

Fitness Tips for Breast Cancer Survivors

Surviving cancer or any disease will leave you wanting to get back to your everyday life as soon as possible. While it's incredible to survive cancer, it's vital to take care of your body and make sure the cancer doesn't relapse. There is not much a person can control when it comes to cancer prevention. The only two things that are in our control are our diet and physical health.

Also Read: Positive Impact Of Exercise On Breast Cancer Treatment

Why diet is important

There are two aspects in which your diet is in link with cancer prevention. The first aspect depends on the types of food you consume. Eating food that is nutritious and low in fat and fibre will protect you against breast cancer recurrence.

The other aspect is that the food you consume contributes to reducing any weight you gain during treatment. This will reduce the existing chances of cancer recurrence.

Food types to include in your diet

Various food groups have proven cancer-preventing properties which will be great additions to your diet.

Low-fat protein

Make sure that your diet consists of low-fat protein such as beans, nuts, fish and white meat like chicken. Protein is an essential part of muscle building, and it is crucial for your body now since cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation break down body mass.

Whole wheat bread

Recent studies have shown that many potent antioxidants in whole wheat help with the fight against cancer. So, switching to whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, and brown rice might be of benefit to you.

Orange foods

Fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkins and apricots are known to be rich in carotene, which has been studied to have cancer-fighting properties.

Green vegetables

Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and other leafy green vegetables have high fibre and folate content, and research shows that there is a direct link between high folate intake and low breast cancer risk.

Allium family

Garlic, onions and leek are some of the vegetables known to have high allium content and studies on animals show that they are known to slow the increase in cancer growth.

Soy

Some studies once set out to prove that soy was the magical cure for cancer. While there have been no solid results in that process, soy hasnt proven to be harmful either. While people tend to choose soy alternatives to maintain fitness, doctors suggest moderation to be safe.

Also Read: Benefits of Exercises to Fight Breast Cancer

Supplements

It is easy to get lost in the world of supplements that promise a lot of things, including the prevention of cancer. It is wise to consult your doctors and a registered dietician to ensure you take only the necessary supplements.

Planning a fitness routine

With the cancer treatment coming to an end, you will now be ready to get more active. The treatment would have left you with extra weight. Studies show that more than half the women who survive breast cancer gain weight six months after chemotherapy.

Primary reasons

The primary reasons for this are due to the reduced physical activity during the treatment, along with steroids and other medications.

Chemopause

Another main reason for the weight gain is the temporary chemopause that slows down the metabolism of women. Chemopause is the short-term menopause that women in chemotherapy go through. This is usually caused by the different mixtures of steroids that they are put on to help with the side effects of chemotherapy.

Going back to fitness

As a person recovering from cancer, it is easy to get carried away. It is essential to plan your journey into fitness without stressing yourself.

Make a plan - Consult with your doctor on what kind of exercise you need and how much you can handle.

Start small and be realistic - It is vital to start with a routine you are comfortable with and not go too strong. Be realistic with the goal you want to reach through your fitness journey and make sure you give yourself time and space to adjust.

Have a balance - While fitness is essential, make sure you dont overdo it and focus on balancing activities that interest you and activities that help you.

Find a partner - It would be helpful to find someone willing to work out and exercise with you. This will motivate you when youre feeling low and also make sure you are not exerting yourself to the point of exhaustion.

Conclusion

The need to get back on your feet and regain the physique and strength you had before cancer can be daunting and the urge to give up soon when no results are showing is also always looming over you. But it is important to remember that your body has been through a lot, and it may take months or even years to regain the fitness that you had before the cancer started. The key is to put in consistent work and not lose hope till you see substantial results.

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Reference:

  1. Hayes SC, Johansson K, Alfano CM, Schmitz K. Exercise for breast cancer survivors: bridging the gap between evidence and practice. Transl Behav Med. 2011 Dec;1(4):539-44. doi: 10.1007/s13142-011-0082-7. PMID: 24073076; PMCID: PMC3717674.
  2. McNeely ML, Campbell KL, Rowe BH, Klassen TP, Mackey JR, Courneya KS. Effects of exercise on breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ. 2006 Jul 4;175(1):34-41. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.051073. PMID: 16818906; PMCID: PMC1482759.
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