Breathe Easy: Aerobic Exercise Could Extend Lives of Breast Cancer Warriors

Breast cancer is a journey that no woman wants to face, but knowing the right tools for optimizing your chances of surviving this challenging ordeal can make a significant difference. If you’ve been treated for breast cancer, researchers highly recommend aerobic exercise to help improve your chances of survival.

The Power of Aerobic Exercise

You may be thinking, “Why aerobic exercise?” The answer is simple: cardio-pulmonary fitness. Research conducted at Duke University has shown that women with better cardiopulmonary function have an improved likelihood of living longer after breast cancer treatment. Lead researcher Lee Jones is quoted as saying, “Fitness level may be an important biomarker of survival among cancer patients. But the beautiful thing about fitness is that we can improve it with exercise training.”

The results of the study were quite striking: women with advanced breast cancer who displayed higher cardiopulmonary function had a median survival of 36 months, while those who were less fit only had a 16-month median survival. Clearly, there’s a strong correlation between aerobic activity and survival rates for breast cancer patients.

But how does this all tie together? How does enhanced cardiopulmonary function improve cancer survival rates? Let’s take a closer look at the connection.

Cardiopulmonary Function and Cancer Recovery

Cardiopulmonary fitness is a measure of how efficiently your heart and lungs are working together to supply oxygen and nutrients to your body. The better your body can perform this essential task, the better it will be able to repair itself and recover from illness, injury, or disease; this includes cancer.

Aerobic exercise naturally increases cardiopulmonary fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs. When you repeatedly challenge these organs through exercise, they adapt and grow stronger, increasing your ability to perform day-to-day activities with ease and stamina. This extra power and endurance not only improves your quality of life but can be crucial when fighting cancer as well.

Choosing the Right Exercise

Optimizing your cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t just about exercising; it’s about finding the right type and intensity of aerobic activities that suit your unique needs and circumstances. There’s truly no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness, so consider the following types of exercise when planning your workout routine:

  • Walking: A great low-impact option for all fitness levels, walking can be easily tailored to your needs and interests. Start with a gentle pace and gradually increase your duration and speed as your strength and endurance improve. Walking in nature can provide the added benefits of fresh air and a calming environment;

  • Swimming: Another low-impact option, swimming offers the opportunity to engage in a full-body workout that’s easy on the joints. Like walking, you can start slow and build your strength and stamina over time. Swimming is also a great option for those who prefer a more challenging workout;

  • Cycling: Biking is a fantastic way to elevate your heart rate and engage your leg muscles, without causing unnecessary strain on the joints. You can opt for a stationary bike or hop on a traditional one;

  • Dancing: If you’re looking for a more enjoyable way to engage in aerobic activity, why not try dancing? Whether you sign up for a class, hit the dance floor with friends, or just shake it off in your living room, dancing can effectively elevate your heart rate and help you burn calories while having fun.

Creating a Sustainable Routine

It’s not enough to choose the right activity; it’s equally crucial to build a sustainable workout routine that you can maintain over any months or years. Consistency is the key to building aerobic endurance and optimizing your cardiopulmonary fitness. Aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Break it down into smaller increments as needed, remembering that even 10-15 minutes per day can make a difference in your fitness level.

Consult your medical team for guidance regarding the best exercise options for your individual circumstances, and be sure to listen to your body. Allow yourself time to recover and gradually build your strength, without pushing too hard.

The Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that breast cancer brings immense challenges to a woman’s life, but thankfully, you possess the power to extend your longevity and improve your quality of life by optimizing your cardiopulmonary fitness. Remember that aerobic exercise is not only a tool for surviving breast cancer but also an investment in your future health and well-being.