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Moving Through Cancer: Exercise Key for Breast Cancer Survivors

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By Manuel Munoz II and Robert L. Herron, Ed.D. |

October is National Breast Cancer awareness month, and the evidence is clear, being physical active is important for those at risk of developing, in treatment for, or recovering from breast cancer.

Being physically active is important for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For many, regular physical activity is paramount to maintain the capacity to perform activities of daily living. According to the World Health Organization , as of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.

Accordingly, the American College of Sports Medicine supports an initiation called Moving Through Cancer. The mission is to assure all people living with and beyond cancer are assessed, advised, referred to, and engaged in appropriate exercise and rehabilitative programming as a standard of care.  

The Moving Through Cancer webpage has several links to resources aimed to assist health care providers, exercise professionals, and patients find information about exercise and cancer. This includes physical activity guidelines for many cancers.

Data show that women with breast cancer who met the minimum physical activity guidelines before diagnosis and at the 2-year follow-up (after treatment) had a 55% reduced chance of their cancer returning and a 68% reduced chance of death from any cause (not just breast cancer) compared with those who did not meet the guidelines at both times.

Heart disease (CVD) is still the leading cause of mortality in women. Current breast cancer treatments can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health [e.g., left ventricular dysfunction, accelerated cardiovascular disease (CVD)], and for women with pre-existing CVD, this might influence cancer treatment decisions by both the patient and the provider.

We wish to encourage everyone be aware of the best practices including being aware of symptoms, working with a healthcare team to get screenings, and find a way to include physical activity and exercise as part of your battle against and through cancer.

Manuel Munoz II is a Junior undergraduate student at the University of Montevallo studying Exercise and Nutrition Science from Samson, AL. Manuel is the current Vice President of the Exercise Science Club at the University of Montevallo and has been recognized for being on the President’s List every year with his time at Montevallo.

Robert L. Herron, Ed.D., NSCA-CSCS*D, ACSM-CEP is an Assistant Professor in the Exercise and Nutrition Science Program at the University of Montevallo. Dr. Herron is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® with distinction from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CSCS*D®) and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-CEP®). Dr. Herron is a graduate of the United States Sports Academy and serves as a Non-Resident Faculty Member.

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