Cancer and Exercise

Kerry Moynihan 
Personal Trainer
Two-time Breast Cancer Survivor

October always gives me pause.  With its proliferation of pink it’s a reminder that this month marks breast cancer fundraising and awareness season. 

I was caught in the breast cancer cross hairs in 2003 and again in 2013, so I’m a major supporter of all efforts to eradicate this dreaded disease. Until that day, patients and survivors, alike, must take their own health into their own hands and do what they can to live healthy, full lives. 

During treatment simply moving from the bed to the couch may feel overwhelming. But studies show physical activity and maintaining muscle mass, encourages patients to take better care of themselves, allows them to engage in enjoyable activities during treatment, and helps with quicker treatment recovery time.

The American Cancer Society recommends all patients, in treatment or post, follow the U.S. Surgeon General’s physical activity guidelines stating that adults should get AT LEAST 150 minutes of cardio each week and strength train twice for ALL muscle groups for AT LEAST 20 minutes per sweat sesh. 

As with all exercise, consistency is key so choosing an enjoyable exercise outlet is important in keeping you in the game. And depending on physical limitations, finding the right workout is vital. It’s always a good idea to check-in with your physician and consult with a certified personal trainer to tailor-make an effective and enjoyable individualized program based on treatment and post-op needs. 

Aside from its physical benefits, exercise is a mental outlet for stress and anxiety and a cancer diagnosis is without a doubt stressful. While we workout, endorphins (chemicals produced by the body) naturally relieve our stress, boost our mood, and increase our overall well being. 

When thriving through a cancer diagnosis, I have found it’s important to use ALL of the tools in the tool chest: exercise being a vital one. It soothes body and soul reminding us that we are strong, capable and alive. 

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