Weightlifting for Breast Cancer Patients

Weightlifting for Breast Cancer Patients
Article written by:
Lana Cooksey
My goal is to improve the quality of life for all my clients by helping them feel stronger, healthier, and more confident.

Table of Contents

Weightlifting for Breast Cancer Patients

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October we’re looking at how weightlifting, resistance training, and HIIT can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer. We’re also discussing the benefits weightlifting can bring to patients who are going through treatment and recovery.

Lowering Your risk

Who’s at risk for breast cancer? Of course, there are genetics to consider. But certain physical factors also make some women way more likely to develop the disease. One of those major factors is obesity. Another, often related factor is lack of physical activity.

One of the best ways to combat these risk factors is with a balanced, professionally designed and supervised training program that incorporates weightlifting and high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This combination not only burns fat during the workout; it generates the lean muscle mass that improves metabolism even at rest, so that the body can reach and maintain a healthy weight.

This isn’t just us saying this combo works. According to cancer.org, regarding breast cancer: “The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Getting to or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.”

Walking won’t cut it, ladies! Getting to the gym and working with a personal trainer—either one-on-one or in small-group settings—is what will generate the physical improvements to lower most women’s risk of breast cancer.

And, as we’ve discussed in the past, weightlifting and HIIT also have positive effects on your hormonal balance—yet another way to lower your risk of breast cancer.

Weightlifting After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Even after a breast cancer diagnosis, there are also many incredible benefits weightlifting can bring to breast cancer patients and survivors.

Breast cancer surgery can wreak havoc on the muscles of the upper body, leading to pain and weakness in the short-term and then long-term physical issues that stem from compensating for that pain. A fitness professional can design a resistance-training regimen that takes into account a patient’s specific post-op circumstances, improving their strength as well as their long-term muscle health.

And let’s not forget the very real mental health benefits associate with exercise, and what they can mean for someone going through this ordeal.

And for those who worry that any level of resistance training for cancer patients can actually trigger lymphedema: This is not the case! In fact, when done properly, resistance training can actually lower your risk of lymphedema. Some studies have even shown that women who were diagnosed with lymphedema and who followed a well-designed weightlifting plan were 50% less likely to have the lymphedema get worse.

Do It Right

Remember, whether you’re a breast cancer patient or someone looking to lower their risk of breast cancer, unsupervised weightlifting is dangerous for the general population; it’s even more so for cancer patients.

In order to make sure that they reap the incredible benefits of a weightlifting program, everyone should look to a fitness professional who can design for them a specialized program that takes their circumstances into account.

And when it comes to mitigating risk or recovering from breast cancer, who better than personal trainers who specialize in strengthening, managing and protecting female bodies?

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