Breast Cancer and Exercise – Muscle Strength and Endurance

Week Four

A Breast Cancer diagnosis can completely blind-side a woman and shock her family and friends. While navigating various treatment options and making decisions on the best approach for her case, the days and weeks can fly by and exercise can often become a low priority. However, even just walking post-surgery and during treatment can provide both physical and emotional benefits.

The last few weeks we have discussed how exercise can play a role in both prevention and treatment of Breast Cancer. It’s always important to discuss your fitness plan with your physician because everyone’s case is different.

Once given the approval, following a program that incorporates specific exercises and stretches that will help you heal and strengthen while maintaining mobility and flexibility will be extremely beneficial.

Over the last few weeks, we have discussed cardio, mobility and flexibility. An aggressive strength training program will need to wait until you have healed from the surgery, but while waiting, you can incorporate lower body strength exercises and core conditioning.

Lower Body Exercises

As soon as you are given the green light, some lower body exercises that you can incorporate include the following.







Step Ups





Note – since you will not be given approval to lift any weight yet, just use your body weight only during these lower body exercises.

Core Exercises

For Core Conditioning exercise, you’ll want to include exercises that don’t involve or provide any load to your upper body. Exercises such as the following can often be incorporated while the upper body heals:


Supine leg lifts





Supine leg extensions



Performing 10-15 reps and 1-3 sets of the above exercises can help prevent muscle atrophy and keep you strong. If you are unfamiliar with proper form for these movements, be sure to get some instruction from a professional who has some experience and understanding of modifications to be made post-surgery and during Breast Cancer treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we’re 2 weeks away from the Girlfriends Run, a local 6K, 10K and Half Marathon Run/Walk that supports local Breast Cancer organizations including Pink Lemonade Project and the Jaime Wyatt Miller Cancer Compassion Fund. Learn more about how you can be a part of 2000 women walking or running the Girlfriends Run 5K, 10K or Half Marathon on Sunday October 13th. If you would like to race for free, you can agree to raise or donate $500 to Pink Lemonade Project or the Jaime Miller Cancer Compassion Fund and help us raise funds to support local women and Breast Cancer survivors. Email me at if you would like more details.

Note: As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Join us for Girlfriends Run for a Cure Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

October 13th – Vancouver, WA

The 13th Annual Girlfriends Run for a Cure offers a Half Marathon, 10K & 5K designed specifically for women to get together to do something good for themselves and to help support a very important women’s cause.




Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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