Lifting Weights Good For Breast Cancer Survivors

Check it out….carry that heavy bag, lift that toddler.  I do anyway.  I really forget about lymphedema for the most part. 

So tell me, do you or do you not believe this?  Some of you swell up at any sign of humidity and others of us don’t have any issues….yet. 

I feel like I’m helping keep away from lymphedema by exercising and lifting light weights.  I don’t go overboard but a few times a week I do some repetitions with my arms.

I’d be interested hear from anyone who has started exercising because they had lymphedema and it helped and I’d be interested to know if you feel like you acquired lymphedema from exercising and using your arms too much?

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4 Responses to Lifting Weights Good For Breast Cancer Survivors

  1. I am back to doing everything I did before surgery. Running, biking, weights, pushups, swimming….so far no issue. It does sit in the back of my mind but mostly I forget about the possibility of lymphadema. I don’t think the doctors really know the answer as to why some get it and some don’t. I’m sure it has to do with the number of lymphnodes removed — I think they took 16 from under my arm but some have many more taken. Less nodes = higher chance of swelling.
    I have always thought exercise was good for everything…so I guess I will keep at it until I am no longer physically able.

  2. Laurie says:

    Thanks so much for asking this question. I have lymphedema, brought on by surgery and exacerbated by radiation. I am on the fence about what helps and what makes it worse and the studies have been so conflicting. I know that “dragonboaters” definitely feel that it helps, yet on the days when I schlep around too much laundry, I feel worse. I bet the best thing is to gradually build up strength.
    I would love to hear about others’ experiences.

  3. spruce hill says:

    I am very interested in this topic. I would love to do some light weight work with my arms, just wish I knew for sure of the risk for me! I have held back on exercise because of the pain I have on my left side and the fact that I am very weak on that side as well.

  4. Dawn says:

    I actually exercise more now than I did before my mastectomy with nodes removed last year. I walk 20+ miles per week carrying a backpack and also bicycle a few miles here and there as transportation. I play the drums which is repetitive motion with no weight. My only change is that I bought a new backpack that snaps across my chest. The old one put an uncomfortable amount of pressure on my underarm where the nodes were removed. Whether I’m exercising or not, the area feels tight often. I also feel the need to elevate. I stretch and/or elevate until it feels better. No noticible swelling.

    A rehab therapist told me exercise and lifting was fine as long as I worked up gradually and was strong enough to do it. She said not to lift past my strength to do so or longer than was comfortable and I’d be fine. I took her at her word.

    Each of us is different. I’m a believer in checking with our own providers. I like to backpack and am planning to take my annual trip this coming fall.

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