Did you know that exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight plays a significant role in preventing breast cancer and recovering from the disease?
If the word “exercise” makes you cringe, don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you have to commit to your local CrossFit gym and throw around heavy weights; nor does it mean you have to go on a 5 miles run every day. Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.
One study from the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill found that women who regularly participated in any recreational physical activity, regardless of intensity, reduced their risk for breast cancer. Feeling a bit better? You may not love the idea of exercise, but most people can manage daily walks, a yoga class, or a 20-minute at-home circuit workout.
However, the study did also find that substantial weight gain may negate the effects of physical activity, meaning your intensity level should be appropriate to the amount of weight you need to lose or activity needed to maintain your weight.
The good news is that exercise does more than help prevent breast cancer. Activities like weight lifting, cardio, and yoga can help you build strength, lose weight, maintain bone density, and improve heart health. They are also proven to reduce stress, improve sleep, increase energy and make daily functions easier. If that list isn’t motivational, we don’t know what is.
ProSource developed the workouts below with your varied interests and physical levels in mind, combining the benefits of weights with yoga for a well-rounded workout you can do anytime, anywhere. You may do all of these in one workout, or do kettlebells one day and yoga on another.
The kettlebell exercises are great for full-body strength and fat-burning, while the more gentle yoga stretching and toning helps keep you limber and de-stress. If you don’t have kettlebells, you can mimic these movements with dumbbells.
Repeat 2-3 times per week to help keep both body and mind strong and relaxed!
NOTE: These workouts are intended for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent cancer, or for those who have survived the disease and are no longer undergoing treatment. If you are currently in treatment for breast cancer, please consult your doctor regarding the appropriate physical activity for you.*
(Perform 3 sets of 10-12 of each exercise. You can perform in a circuit or one at a time).
Begin in a side plank position, elbow underneath your shoulder and feet and knees stacked.
Hold onto a light kettlebell or dumbbell with your free arm and extend it toward the ceiling.
Slowly lower your arm back toward the floor, and thread it through the open space underneath you while you rotate your shoulders and hips toward the floor.
Return to the starting position, lifting the weight back toward the ceiling in one smooth motion.
Start with a medium-weight kettlebell on the ground, just slightly in front of you between your feet. You may want to practice with a lighter weight. Once you get the movement down, it may be easier to perform with a slightly heavier weight. Stand with feet hip-width apart, chest lifted and shoulders retracted.
Squat down to grab the kettlebell with palms down. Pull shoulders back and contract abs, then press up through your legs, maintaining a straight back as you lift the weight off the floor with straight arms. You should now be standing tall with hands/weight near the top of your thighs.
Before you start swinging, make sure your core is pulled in tight. Maintain that as well as straight arms throughout the exercise.
Soften the knees as you shift your rear end toward slightly down and toward the wall behind you. Weight should be in your heels, and back straight.
To swing, press through your heels and thrust hips forward, tightening your core and glutes to help with momentum. Let the weight swing up in front of you until arms reach shoulder height. Do not use your arms to swing the weight – the entire force should be coming from your lower body.
Let the kettlebell drop back toward the ground and underneath your legs as you once again soften your knees and press rear end toward the wall. Continue this pattern, maintaining control and momentum.
Squat to press
Stand with feet shoulder distance apart, holding a kettlebell in each hand, pulling core in tight.
Lift the weights to your shoulders with palms facing in, and let them lightly rest there.
Bend at the knees to squat down while pushing your hips back as if sitting on a chair. Maintain a straight back until legs are parallel (or almost parallel) to the floor.
Press up through your heels and as you stand, press the weights straight up into the air until arms are straight but not locked.
Return weights to start as you lower back into a squat for your next repetition.
Start with two kettlebells on the ground about shoulder width apart. Position yourself just in front of them on your toes and hands (pushup position) with legs about shoulder distance apart for balance.
Grip kettlebells and row one kettlebell, retracting your shoulder blade as you bend your elbow, pulling it to your side with elbow close to your body. Try to keep your body straight without rotating to far to the other side.
Lower the kettlebell to the floor. You can repeat all reps on one side, or alternate sides.
Stand holding a kettlebell by the handle close to your chest. Legs should be about shoulder distance apart, toes pointed out slightly.
Squatdown toward the ground, maintaining a straight back and keeping head and chest lifted. Continue until your elbows reach your knees.
Pause for a second, then press up through heels and glutes, maintaining a straight back on the way up.
Now that you’ve worked out your whole body, bring your heart rate down and stretch out your muscles with this relaxing routine.
YOGA STRETCHING ROUTINE
(Hold each pose for 3-5 slow, deep breaths)
- Start standing tall with feet together, and extend arms up to the ceiling as you inhale. Swan dive down toward the ground with a straight back as you exhale.
- Draw hands to your calves or ankles and pull upper body in toward your lower body, keeping just a slight bend in knees.
Downward Facing Dog
- From forward fold, place palms on the ground shoulder distance apart, and step legs back behind you so body forms a “V”.
- Spread your fingers press firmly through your palms, and rotate your upper arms externally, keeping shoulders away from your ears. Press heels toward the floor and as you lift your hips toward the ceiling and keep core tight. Knees may be slightly bent if needed.
Rotating Low Lunge
From downward facing dog, bring right foot forward and place it between your hands. Bend front knee and keep back leg straight, knee off of the ground. Look forward and lift chest slightly, keeping hands on the ground, and extend torso forward, stretching through the back.
Keeping your right hand firmly planted, lift left arm off the ground, and rotate your upper body toward your left leg, extending arm toward the ceiling. Hold for 2-3 breaths, then return left hand to mat.
Return back to a downdog position for 1-2 breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
From downward facing dog, bring one foot forward and place it between your hands. Inhale, lifting upper body to a straight position and extending arms overhead with palms facing.
Front knee should stay bent with back leg straight, and both toes should be pointed forward. Keep head and neck tall and tailbone reaching toward the floor, taking care not to arch your back excessively. Keep core pulled in tight and reach toward the ceiling.
To release, drop hands back toward the floor and lower torso. Extend front foot back into a downward facing dog for 1-2 breaths, then release onto your hands and knees.
Stand sideways on your mat, feet parallel and toes pointed forward, apart 4-5 feet apart. Then, turn your front foot forward so it faces the top of the mat. Turn back foot slightly in toward your body, hips still facing the side of your mat. Both legs should be straight.
Engage your core and raise both arms out to your sides, parallel to the floor. Shift your weight slightly back into your back hip. Then shift ribcage slightly forward, reaching through your front arm.
Exhale, then slowly lower your right arm toward the floor, bending at the hip.
Place hand on your shin, ankle, or on the floor next to your ankle. You can also place your hand on a yoga block. Maintain a neural spine and a straight line from hand to hand as you reach toward the sky. If you can, turn your head toward the sky as well. If you have neck issues, look downward or straight ahead.
To release, press through your heels and engage your core and glutes as you slowly lift back up to starting position and lower your arms. Repeat on the opposite side.
Kneel on the floor with knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor, hands on your hips. You can be on your toes or the top of your feet depending on your flexibility and comfort level.
Inhale, then reach one hand back, placing it on your heel. Then reach the other hand to touch the other heel, keeping chin tucked. Engage your core, press feet into the floor and lift your chest and shoulders toward the ceiling as you allow your head to drop.
To leave the pose, slowly bring your chin back toward your chest and hands to your lower back to assist you up, being cautious not to strain neck or back.
Sit with legs extended in front of you and a straight back. Bend left leg in toward your body and place bottom of foot against your inner right thigh.
Keep front foot flexed, then raise arms up straight overhead, reaching tall toward the ceiling. Then reach forward, extending arms toward foot, ankle, or shin depending on your flexibility. You can also use a yoga strap to assist you (as pictured).
Try to keep back straight and head up as you lower, and after a few breaths, lower a bit further. You can maintain this position, or rainbow your left arm over your side body and twist torso just slightly to get more of a stretch through your left side.
After a few breaths, return left leg to a straight position, then draw in right leg and repeat.
Start kneeling on the floor, with toes touching and knees apart. Lower torso toward the floor until forehead is touching the mat and chest is resting on top of thighs. If this is uncomfortable, you can keep knees together.
You can either extend arms forward with palms down on the mat, or drape them by your sides with palms facing the ceiling.
Take deep breaths, allowing your upper back to expand, releasing tension in your neck and shoulders.
Hold up to one minute for a calming way to end your workout.
*This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing any exercise program, including the programs in this article. It is your responsibility to evaluate your own medical and physical condition, or that of your clients, and to independently determine whether to perform, use or adapt any of the information or content on this website. Any exercise program may result in injury. By voluntarily undertaking any exercise displayed on this website, you assume the risk of any resulting injury.