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Breast Cancer Health Center

Exercise and Nutrition After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Breast Cancer: Goals for Exercise continued...

If you had a lumpectomy to remove a breast lump, or surgery to remove part of your breast (a partial mastectomy), you can begin exercising fairly quickly.

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 receive radiation. That's because fluids can't drain normally from your arm. Lymphedema can happen any time after surgery or radiation. You'll need to protect your arm from injury. You may also need to avoid exercises such as tennis, running, and some styles of yoga that use your arms for some time after surgery.

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

2. Choose an exercise you enjoy.

The best exercise 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 try using 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 try running, swimming, cycling, hiking, more vigorous yoga, and other aerobic exercises.

3. Work up to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

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

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Angela Jain on April 14, 2014
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