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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Exercise and Nutrition After Breast Cancer Surgery

Exercise After Surgery continued...

If you had surgery to remove the lymph nodes under your arm, you're at higher risk of swelling of the arm, called lymphedema. This is especially true if you get radiation. That's because fluids can't drain the way they used to from your arm. Lymphedema can happen any time after surgery or radiation. You'll need to protect your arm from injury. So you may need to avoid things like tennis, running, and some styles of yoga that use your arms for some time.

If you choose to have breast reconstruction, you may have several surgeries ahead of you. That may mean you'll have to put off exercise for longer.

Choose an exercise you enjoy. The best workout for you is the one you'll stick with and enjoy -- and one that's safe, given your type of breast cancer surgery. Start with brisk walking. Or use a stationary bike so you can sit upright without leaning on your arms. Other exercises that don't require you to put weight on your arms include tai chi, qigong, and gentle yoga.

Later, add more vigorous exercise that uses your arms more. You might opt to run, swim, cycle, hike, do more vigorous yoga, and other aerobic exercises.

Aim to get 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week -- unless your doctor says not to. Go slowly and safely in the months after your surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 01, 2015
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