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Exercise to Manage Breast Cancer Induced Anxiety

Exercise, of any type, can have profound health benefits in women. For women who are living with breast cancer, the use of exercise can not only help to manage pain and associated physical symptoms but also assist in managing anxiety and other levels of mental health complications. If you are treating for malignancy of the breast, and if you find that your anxiety levels are much higher than normal, you may want to consider a more intense form of exercise as a way to moderate your anxiety levels.

The intensity of exercise is often associated with weight loss and other aerobic benefits. But, in addition to this, a very intense workout and intense fitness program can also help to reduce anxiety in many patients fighting disease and illness. In women who are living with breast cancer, there is a tendency to feel overwhelmed and anxious – almost as if there is no control over life. With exercise, and unlike medications and psychotherapy, a woman can capture some of the inner resources and emotions of control, thereby learning to more effectively overcome anxiety.

Breast Cancer

There is a reverse relationship between anxiety in women with breast cancer and the degree or intensity with which they work out or engage in physical fitness activities. Women who are involved in light to moderate levels of fitness activity will often find some control over anxiety and mental health complications but, typically, in women with breast cancer, a far greater intensity is required.

This is not to say that a fitness program should not be pursued if you can only become involved to a light or moderate level. However, if you have the physical stamina to engage in fitness activities that are more intense, and if you are struggling to overcome anxiety while fighting breast cancer, then intense exercise programs should be considered.

When unsure about what type of intense physical activity is best for you, consider hiring a personal trainer who is well versed in the physical health needs of women who are facing malignancies. Most often, these types of trainers can be found through your oncology office.

Sources: Oncology Nursing Forum, Vol. 37, No. 2, March 2010, pp. 212-214.