Enjoy a snippet from Heather – Physiotherapist and Lymphedema Therapist  

Guest Blog: Breast Cancer and Exercise

October is breast cancer awareness month when organisations around the world focus on reducing the incidence of this disease and researching for a cure. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women and each day on average, 53 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to excellent screening programs, there is more breast cancer being detected however the number of deaths from this disease is decreasing.  In Australia, the chance of surviving at least five years was 74% in 1986-1990 and in 2011-2015 was 90.8%.  

If you are one of these women who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may feel overwhelmed as to what the future holds and possibly a bit helpless in the face of treatment to come. Proactively, you can make a difference to your future health by reading on. 

Exercise is really important and improves survivorship.

In two studies (Holmes et al. 2005 and Holick et al. 2008) which over 6-8 years followed nearly 7500 women who had had breast cancer, these women were found to have a reduction in risk of recurrent breast cancer of 43% when they exercised between 3-5 hours a week compared to those women who exercised less than one hour a week. They also reduced their risk of dying by 50%. 

Exercise recommendations for reduction in breast cancer recurrence and improved survival are:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week

  • Two to three strength training sessions per week

Check with your medical practitioner before starting any new exercise program, but it may look like the one below.

Weekly Exercise Program

5 x 30 minute sessions of walking or cycling. Mix it up, try and start gently but increase distance or speed each day. Include some hills.


 2 – 3 x 20-30-minute strength sessions. Pick 5 exercises such as push-ups (can start on bench or knees), hammers with hand weights, squats, crunches and plank. Do 4 sets of 30 seconds of exercise then 15 seconds’ rest. 

Heather York Physiotherapist (APAM) and Lymphoedema Therapist (NLPRM) M. Phty, U. Syd. 

Lymphoedema and Surgical Physiotherapy is located at Sydney Adventist Hospital, Wahroonga, 2076. 

For bookings phone: 02 9480 6260, or book directly on: