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Who Exercises? Breastcancer.org Visitors Do!

By on January 5th, 2012 Categories: Day-to-Day Matters

Breastcancer.org is getting ready to launch a section on exercise, and we want to thank everyone who completed our survey on the topic for your help in making it happen.

The results were amazing — 70% of you exercise regularly and 23% exercise sometimes. So a whopping 93% of people who filled out the survey do exercise, which is tremendous! You’re reaping the benefits of working out, which include lowering your risk of cancer coming back (more than 60% of respondents were diagnosed within the last two years or more recently) or of being diagnosed in the first place, as well as fewer and less severe treatment side effects and increased mobility and energy.

Since it’s fairly easy to do and can be done almost anywhere, it’s no surprise that walking was the most popular type of exercise. More than 80% of people who filled out the survey walk, but it’s clear from the results that a lot of you are doing several types of exercise, which is what most trainers and physical therapists recommend. Great job! Here’s what you told us you’re doing:

  • weight lifting: 35%
  • cycling: 29%
  • yoga: 28%
  • running: 23%
  • elliptical machine/stair stepper: 22%
  • swimming: 19%
  • dancing: 15%
  • hiking/rock climbing: 14%
  • aerobics class: 11%

Smaller numbers of other people are skiing, skating, rowing, playing golf and tennis, and doing Pilates.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer exercise about 4 hours per week; it seems that quite a few of our survey respondents are superstars when it comes to exercise: Nearly a quarter of you exercise more than 5 hours a week and another quarter exercise 4 hours or more each week. Another 20% exercise between 3 and 3.5 hours per week — that’s some awesome sweat equity you’re building in your body.

It’s also pretty clear that our visitors know that they need heavy breathing now and then. Nearly 70% of you exercise at a moderate level most of the time — impressive for a group of people moving through the treatment and recovery process.

If you didn’t fill out our survey and don’t exercise, I bet these testimonials will rev up your resolve. You can feel the glow coming through these women’s words:

“I’m at the halfway mark on my chemo now, just finished 3 x FEC and will start weekly x 9 of Taxol this Tuesday. I’m running though chemo, much slower pace and shorter distance. My heart rate on my long run is the same when I did my tempo run before chemo, but doesn’t bother me at all! As long as I can get out there and run I’m happy.”

“I have lymphedema, but I love my yoga classes and wouldn’t give them up for the world! That said, I always wear my compression sleeve and gauntlet and I do avoid poses like downward dog. I can do plank just fine for some reason. After dealing with lymphedema for so long, I’ve just kind of learned what poses will leave my arm with that dreaded ‘heavy’ feeling, and I avoid those, but I do all others with enthusiasm.”

“I just passed the half way mark on radiation therapy today and went for a 4-mile JOG — I emphasize jog because my husband can actually walk beside at the same rate. In any case, it just feels good to still be getting out there and sweating no matter how far or how fast.”

“While on chemo and radiation, I was walking every day. It really helped with fatigue. Even if you have to crawl out the door, you get your b*** out there. It will be well worth it in the end. During radiation I also did my arm exercises every day. I just hated the tightening feeling if I didn’t do my upper body workout.”

“A couple of months ago I decided to take up running again, something I hadn’t done in 10 years. I’m doing that ‘couch to 5K program’ and finish it next week. So while it’s not a lot, running about 5K 3x a week has really changed the quality of my life. I felt so sluggish all the time I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to exercise again! Chemo-induced menopause and a new belly I never used to have sure didn’t help.”

Thanks again to everyone who completed our exercise survey! Your input helps us be the best we can be!

Jamie DePolo is senior editor at Breastcancer.org. She's been writing science stories for non-scientists for 20 years. Her spare time is devoted to spoiling her assorted canines and felines and cheering for the Detroit Red Wings.

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