The Beacon June FY22

The wellbeing wonder drug EXERCISE

Dale Ischia

E xercising is so beneficial, yet for many of us it is hard to find the motivation to get started and keep going. It’s natural to feel unsure about exercising during and after breast cancer surgery and treatment, especially as you may be healing or managing side effects such as lymphoedema, muscle or joint pain, peripheral neuropathy or fatigue. To inspire you to get moving, The Beacon asked Dale Ischia for some advice. Dale is an accredited exercise physiologist and owner of Moving Beyond Cancer in Melbourne. She supports people to move their bodies (and mood) after a cancer diagnosis. ‘Exercise really is a magic pill that offers so many benefits,’ says Dale. ‘It counteracts many of the side effects of medication and treatment, such as cancer- related fatigue, chemo brain, lower bone density, depression and anxiety. It also helps to improve your mood, muscle mass, heart and lung function, balance, mobility, bone density, sleep, immunity and, importantly, reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence (coming back).’ Dale has responded to some of the common questions people have about exercising during and after breast cancer treatment. I was active before breast cancer but now I can’t do some of the things I once enjoyed. Will I ever get back to my former, fitter self? It will take time and consistency to get back to your former level of fitness, but it is possible to restore your cardiovascular fitness and strength with a variety of different types of exercises. I feel like I have no energy. Won’t exercising just make me even more tired? Exercise actually reduces fatigue. It is also an effective way to support and improve mental health. During a time when so much feels out of your control, exercise can give you a sense of empowerment and reassurance about what your body is capable of.

I wasn’t particularly active before my diagnosis but would like to be now. Where do I begin? Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you do little or no physical activity right now, start by doing some, then slowly build up so you are active on most days. I am worried about injuring myself. What can I do to make sure I exercise safely? Find a form of exercise that suits your situation and start slowly before gradually increasing movement and frequency. Talk to your treating team about types of exercises you can do and consider seeing an accredited exercise physiologist for an individualised program that specifically address your concerns. You can find an accredited exercise physiologist near you by visiting the Exercise and Sports Science Australia website . Top tips for moving more 1. Do what you enjoy 2. Exercise with a friend 3. Include exercise in your diary, just like any other appointment 4. Choose the time of day when you generally have more energy 5. Add variety – cardio, strength training and mobility/balance exercises 6. Consider online programs or ask an exercise physiologist for a program you can do at home. BCNA’s resources about exercise • BCNA’s My Journey • Upfront about Breast Cancer podcast – Exercise and breast cancer • What you don’t know until you do, with Dr Charlotte Tottman podcast – Exercise is annoying (cos it works!)


Breast Cancer Network Australia

June 2022 | Issue 91

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