From Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester:  Voices of the Ribbon Newsletter

By Pat Battaglia

At a recent evening seminar at the Coalition, Karen Mustian, Ph.D., M.P.H., spoke on The Benefits of Exercise During and After Breast Cancer. Dr. Mustian is the Director of the Physical Exercise and Kinesiology (PEAK) Lab at the University of Rochester and has studied the effects of exercise on those facing breast cancer at all ages and all stages of the disease. Having witnessed suffering and loss due to cancer in her own family, Dr. Mustian has dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for those in all levels of cancer treatment through the use of movement and exercise.

In studying the effects of exercise on women with metastatic breast cancer, this compassionate researcher found that many needed the exercises to be modified to accommodate individual needs. Working within the limitations that were presented to her, Dr. Mustian learned along with the patients which particular modifications worked best. Women with advanced breast cancer fared well with a gentle exercise program designed to fit their needs. They soon began to see improvements in their fatigue levels, cardio-pulmonary function, muscle function, balance, flexibility, and Holmes body composition. It all adds up to an improved overall sense of wellbeing, and can optimize quality of life for those living with this disease.

When considering beginning an exercise program, Dr. Mustian recommends that you start by talking with the doctor in charge of your care about possible contraindications to exercise, or to particular forms of exercise. This applies to everyone, and is especially important for those with advanced breast cancer. Once you are ready to begin, learn about community resources and work with professionals qualified in dealing with cancer patients. Start slowly. Any exercise is better than none, and the benefits of a single exercise session –which can be as simple as a ten-minute walk – will last for days. With consistent activity, you will see

Those recovering from or living with breast and/or any GYN cancer have access to our Healing Arts Initiative and Gentle Yoga classes. For more information about these and other community resources, call the Coalition at 473-8177. To learn more about the PEAK Lab, visit http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ physiology-exercise-lab