Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The Benefits of Exercise in Dealing with Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so this month’s first blog posts will highlight the way exercise can improve the quality of life if you are a breast cancer survivor or a current patient.

About 12% of all women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lives.[1] A breast cancer diagnosis and many of the resulting treatments, can lead to depression. “Symptoms of depression include sadness, loss of pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, change in weight, difficultly sleeping or sleeping all the time, energy loss, feeling worthless, helpless, or hopeless, and thoughts of death or suicide,” as cited by BREASTCANCER.ORG.


While there are many ways to treat depression in these patients, physical activity and mindfulness-based stress reduction are increasingly recognized as “effective methods for improving mental and physical conditions in breast cancer patients.”[2] These activities have proven to be a great way for breast cancer patients and survivors to deal with the emotional toll that a breast cancer diagnosis and/or recovery can take.


A 2019 study, conducted by Odynets et al. and published in ”Physiotherapy Quarterly,” found that exercise was a contributing factor in decreasing depression and anxiety in breast cancer patients and survivors. This publication studied water exercise, Pilates, and yoga as forms of exercise that decrease depression and anxiety in this population. While all forms of exercise benefited these patients in some way, different exercise regimens had varying degrees of effectiveness on depression and anxiety specifically. [3]


There is NO question that exercise can be an important part of a happier and healthier lifestyle for anyone. It has also proven to be an effective tool to reduce the depression and anxiety that breast cancer patients and survivors may experience as a result of their diagnosis and treatment.


Note: If you suffer from depression, with or without a breast cancer diagnosis, you should work with your physician on an effective treatment plan which may include exercise.

 

[1] US Breast Cancer Statistics: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics [2] Depression: https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/side_effects/depression [3] Impact of different exercise interventions on anxiety and depression in breast cancer patients: http://repository.ldufk.edu.ua/bitstream/34606048/22929/1/PQ_27%284%29_36_41%5B8795%5D.pdf