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Responsible Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors

After receiving treatments and surgeries for breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends exercising regularly to regain the mobility and strength needed to complete everyday tasks – from brushing your teeth and eating to eventually walking the dog and jogging around the neighborhood.

With permission from your doctor, you can begin exercising just weeks after recovering from surgery or treatment. Remember to take precautions when necessary, to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and to take deep breaths as you exercise. When performing any exercises, it’s common to feel a tightness, soreness or numbness in the chest and armpits.

Exercising as a Breast Cancer Survivor

Regain Flexibility

Exercising can not only help decrease the negative side effects of your procedure, but it can help you get back to your daily activities more quickly. Before beginning exercises to increase the strength of your arms, it’s important that you regain full use of the affected arm through flexibility training.

The wand exercise is one example of such training. Lying on your back with your knees bent, hold a wand-like object, like a yardstick or a broom, across your stomach with your palms facing up and lift the wand over your head with both hands. Hold for a few seconds, then lower the wand and repeat the action several times.

To help stretch your chest, perform the chest wall stretch. Stand facing a corner of your room, with your toes anywhere from 8 to 10 inches away. Spread your elbows so that they’re touching either side of the wall with your forearms extended upwards. Move your chest toward the corner to stretch your chest and your shoulders.

Stop When Necessary

If you experience headaches, dizziness, blurry vision or progressive pain, or you begin losing your balance or fall, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. Exercise is important, but it’s also important to know when to stop and stay safe.

Avoid Risky Exercises

Many exercises can affect your recovery as a breast cancer survivor. Avoid swimming laps with arm movements, using resistance bands or weights while exercising or any sporting activities that require you to move your shoulders and arms, like tennis or skiing.

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For more information or to schedule an appointment,
call 844-346-7222. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.


Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.