Monday, September 27, 2010

Excercise Program for Breast Cancer Survivors

WHAT:  In the case study proposed you are a director of an exercise program for survivors of breast cancer at a cancer center.  Your designed exercise program includes yoga, tai chi, aerobic, and anaerobic exercises.   The participants are not only concerned about improving their physical health but their quality of life as well.  Two of the main issues facing breast cancer survivors are the effects on ones quality of life and sense of self worth.  Breast cancer survivors often times suffer from depression and anxiety as well as fear of death, dependency, disfigurement, and disability.  Woman also experience problems including: pain, weight gain, loss of range of motion and strength, and decrease in endurance and overall function.  Anyone who’s had lymph nodes removed or radiation administered also must be concerned with Lymphedema.  Lymphedema is painful swelling in the arm and chest caused by a build-up of protein rich fluid due to disruption in the lymphatic system.  After considering these issues it’s your responsibility as the program director to organize a program for optimal physical and mental health benefits.

SO WHAT: As an exercise professional it’s your responsibility to design a safe and effective exercise program that meets both physical and mental health goals.  The physical goals of a breast cancer survivor should include increasing endurance through aerobic exercises, increasing lean body mass, range of motion, and strength through strength training, and preventing frozen shoulder or lymphedema, all of which will decrease pain.  The mental health goals of a breast cancer survivor should include relief from depression, anxiety, fear, stress, and improving self-efficacy, all of which improve quality of life (Aaronson,2010).  Quality of life is defined as an “individuals’ perceptions of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which the live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns”.  It’s a broad concept incorporating   the effectiveness of a designed exercise plan for breast cancer survivors can be determined by using the conceptual model of quality of life.  The conceptual model of quality of life reflects the definition of quality of life as a broad, integrative construct composed of a person’s perceived physical, social, and psychological well-being (Gill, 2008).  By implementing an effective exercise plan these women’s quality of life can be greatly increased.

NOW WHAT:  The first thing I would do is sit down with each woman and find out how they feel about beginning an exercise program as well as their fitness goals.  Most importantly I would find out each of their mental health goals and how they feel they can improve their quality of life.  I would next begin by running the woman through a simple strength training and cardiovascular workout to establish how physically fit each individual is so I’m sure not to push the individuals to far right away.  I’d then begin each individual on the exercise program I’ve developed a couple days a week at first to develop their confidence and so they become comfortable in an exercise environment.  Right away if my developed exercise program works how I hope, these woman’s stress levels, pain, fear, anxiety, and depression will all decrease.  All of which will improve their self-efficacy, and level of self-efficacy, but most importantly their quality of life.  Once this is established I’d then eventually work up to 5 days a week and possibly every day.  I’d base my exercise program on the studies that show exercise training is proven to reduce arousal during stress, to improve cardiovascular and psychological functioning of cardiac patients, and to reduce depression following prolonged life stress.  Fitness is also associated with lower cardiovascular arousal during and following stress, as well as with less physical illness following prolonged life stress (Stein, 2010). All of these things will increase quality of life.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the most important aspect of this exercise program is to increase these women’s quality of life.  By helping reach their fitness health goals it’s possible to help them reach their mental health goals at the same time.  By improving these two aspects of life it’s highly likely that quality of life will increase significantly.

Aaronson, Naomi. "Survival of the Fittest - Exercise for Breast Cancer Surivors." American Fitness (2000). Web. 23 Sept. 2010. <>.
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.)                                 Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Stein, Jeannine. "Breast Cancer Survivors Can and Should Exercise." Los Angeles Times (2010). Web. 23 Sept. 2010. <,1,4379607.story>.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your case study, and liked that you included the possibility of lymphedema. In doing my research for this case study I learned a little more about what breast cancer survivors go through. Lymphedema was something new I didn’t know much about, but I agree it is something the exercise coordinator needs to be aware of when developing the exercise program. I also liked that you would visit with each person individually to see how they are feeling about things and what their goals are for the exercise program. I also agree that you should start the program at a low to moderate level so they can see benefits and gain confidence right away. Working up to 5 days a week is a great goal, but I wouldn’t do any more than that. Most people are lucky if they can workout 5 days a week with the fast pace lifestyle most people lead. Overall I enjoyed your take on developing this exercise program for breast cancer survivors.