Pilates for Breast Cancer SurvivorsPosted on Jan 21st 2011 2:00PM by Holly St. Lifer
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The result is the nationwide Pink Ribbon Recovery Program, a Pilates-based group of exercises that restores mobility and strength to the affected shoulder and arm. "The one thing doctors don't tell you is that so many daily activities can become impossible after surgery," said Puglisi. "I remember being reduced to tears because I didn't have the arm strength to blow-dry my hair or push and pull a vacuuum. Putting on a seatbelt was a nightmare. You think to yourself: No one told me this would happen. Will I ever feel normal again?" It took about a year, but thanks to her exercise routine, the 49 year-old says she's gotten back 90 percent of her mobility.
After years of advising breast cancer survivors to avoid physical activity during and following treatment (including scrubbing, pushing and pulling), a body of new research challenges these traditional restrictions.
In December, a study done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found slowly progressive weight training can reduce the chances of increased arm swelling (lymphedema) by 70 percent. This supports the team's earlier study in 2009, which found weight training reduces worsening of symptoms among women who already have lymphedema.
A large 2005 study of almost 3,000 participants found women with breast cancer who did moderate intensity exercise three to five hours a week were 50 percent less likely to die of the disease than sedentary women. Other studies also found cardio reduced anxiety and depression, which both affect up to 20 percent of breast cancer patients.
Puglisi said the emotional and psychological benefits are immeasurable. "Exercising gives you back some control over a situation in which you have so little control. And it's the one part of your treatment that actually makes you feel good." The Pink Ribbon Recovery Program is used in 11 medical facilities, and there are 500 certified instructors in the U.S. Here are a couple of exercises from the program.
Important note: Every woman's course of treatment and her response to it is unique. Therefore check with your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.
Try out these two moves in the videos below.