Handling Breast Cancer: Exercise and Stress Management
A study conducted by the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology determined regular exercise and being in a stress management program after breast cancer surgery improved women’s mood, quality of life, and resistance to fatigue during and after breast cancer treatment.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, sampled 240 women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The study monitored the women from week 4-10 after breast cancer surgery in the midst of their chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments. Researchers recorded the women’s physical activity levels and half of the participating group participated in a 10-week stress management seminar. The other half participated in a one-day self-help education program.
While all the women felt pretty fatigued with regards to the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, the women that were regularly exercising and participating in the 10-week stress management program reported, and clearly displayed, a better mood, more resistance to fatigue, and an overall better quality of life.
So how do I start exercising more and reducing the stress in my life?
Reducing stress is easier said than done. The diagnosis, treatment, family struggles, and many other factors weigh into many women and results in depression. Consider getting help to manage your stress – either individually or in a group. Many larger cities have support groups that meet on a regular basis, or you may want to try one or more complementary and holistic techniques at breastcancer.org. Beyond the Shock is another great resource as well where all kinds of breast cancer patients, from survivors to the recently diagnosed, can come together to help each other through stressful times.
Regular exercise is a goal that haunts everyone, not just breast cancer patients. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise regiment to talk about how much and how often. Once you’ve done that the advice is the same that is extended to anyone wanting to exercise on a more consistent basis. Find a group you can exercise with (even if it’s just one friend) that will keep you motivated. Most breast cancer support groups have regular days that they exercise together.