As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is so much love and support symbolized in the hue of pink surrounding the Breast Cancer Community. Even the brawny NFL football players are donning pink sneakers and gloves to raise awareness. Of course, treatments, support groups and our knowledge and research of the benefits of exercise have also come a long way.
According to research conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, “For women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy, yoga offers unique benefits beyond fighting fatigue.” The research was conducted in collaboration with India’s largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India.
Their findings were presented this summer at the 47th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and concluded, “while simple stretching exercises improved fatigue, patients who participated in yoga that incorporated yogic breathing, postures, meditation and relaxation techniques into their treatment plan experienced improved physical functioning, better general health and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They also were better able to find meaning in their cancer experience.”
As a trainer who specializes with women who were both in treatment and post-treatment of breast cancer, I have found that exercise is a way for them to not only increase their physical strength and stamina, but to also “get their life back” with a sense of empowerment. Exercise has a way of creating a positive environment where the day-to-day life skills and tasks become easier to perform. Other positive effects from women included an improvement in their fatigue level and the chronic side effects of treatment and anti-cancer medications.
While the last thing women feel like doing after treatment sometimes is getting out of bed and brushing their teeth, it is important that you regain that mind/body connection and get started on some type of regimen. I particularly think that a gentle yoga and/or Pilates routine is a great place to start.