Can I exercise during my chemotherapy?

Yes you can. Chemotherapy is generally given in cycles and you will become increasingly more aware of your side effect patterns as the treatment progresses. The exercise programme I design will take these symptoms into consideration and perhaps suggest just light activity or taking a day off.

Can I exercise after breast cancer surgery?

Absolutely! Engaging in regular exercise will definitely help with the following;

  • Improve your range of movement
  • Reduce or prevent any long term problems you might experience with arm and shoulder mobility
  • Improve posture
  • Improve the symptom of ‘cording’ – which is when you feel as though you have a tight cord in your affected arm running from your armpit down to your elbow, or sometimes down the whole length of the arm
  • Prevent/improve lympoedema by encouraging the lymphatic system to work more effectively

What if I don’t feel well enough to attend my appointment?

That’s absolutely fine. I appreciate that there will be days when the treatment or the cancer is making you feel too unwell to exercise. We can chat on the phone and re-schedule for another time.

What do I have to wear?

I know that might sound a little daft, but this appears to be a fashion question many of us worry about! The answer is simple – loose, comfortable clothing and a well cushioned pair of shoes. Choose fabrics that are cool and breathable and try to dress in layers to help regulate your body temperature.

Can I exercise if I have an existing physical disability or limitation?

Yes. I will tailor your exercises accordingly and together we can be creative and find new ways to integrate physical activity and achieve your fitness goals.

I feel too frightened to exercise…

This I understand. The diagnosis and treatment can overwhelm you and leave you with little inner strength. Exercise will help you to heal faster and in some cases help you to tolerate your treatment better. Physical activity is also something you can control, which can be very empowering. The most important thing is to do something, rather than do nothing. I can help you to choose an activity you enjoy and find rewarding. We will always begin slowly and allow for plenty of rest breaks.

Should I do aerobic or resistance exercises?

Ideally your programme should be a combination of the two, with the added components of flexibility and balance. This will give you the most satisfying results. However, if you have been confined to bed, then an initial resistance programme will be the best way to get you back on your feet again. Alternatively, if you have been feeling bereft of energy, aerobic exercise will help you get your endurance back, so you have enough strength and energy to get through the day.

How do I lose the weight I’ve gained on steroids and/or hormone therapy?

If you are still taking steroids or receiving hormonal therapy, you may find it quite difficult to lose weight. I will prescribe a safe and comprehensive physical activity programme that will focus on building lean muscle mass and losing body fat. With the help of a Nutritionalist/Dietician I am confident that you will start to see a difference. It may take a little time, but it will be worth all the effort and significantly improve your quality of life.

How can I regain my pre-cancerous strength and energy level?

If you are still receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment your body will not have the same physiological response to exercise as it will when your treatment is completed. This is largely due to the fact that all of your energy is going towards the healing process and fighting cancer. If you have been exercising throughout your treatment, your return to your pre-cancerous strength will be much quicker than if you have been sedentary. What is important is that you start slow and realize that there will have been a natural decline in your performance and that this is completely normal and to be expected. It is crucial that you progress according to how your body feels and tolerates each newly introduced exercise regime. I will encourage and motivate you all the way and with a bit of will-power and perseverance, you will return to your pre-cancerous strength and possibly more!

Why is my posture so bad following my mastectomy?

Many of us have poor posture. This is often as a result of being sedentary or sitting in front of a computer, which causes some degree of round shoulder syndrome from weak upper back muscles. Following a mastectomy, this can be exacerbated because scar tissue or adhesions across the mastectomy site become tight and also when there is an inherent ‘guarding’ of the area after surgery. The area needs to be sufficiently stretched and mobilised post operatively to prevent further posture deterioration. Muscle imbalances after a mastectomy +/- reconstruction are very common and these can be addressed with the proper combination of stretching and strength training.

As an older adult, how will my exercise regime differ from others?

If we don’t use our muscles, we lose our muscle mass, we lose our strength. This then contributes to feelings of fatigue and increases your risk of falling or incurring physical disability. So, in a nutshell, older people benefit from resistance training and aerobic exercise just as much as younger folks! Again, it’s imperative we begin slowly and choose activities you feel confident and competent in. For me there is little doubt that exercise is a wonderful way to keep the body and mind strong and youthful.