October is breast cancer awareness
month and we have enlisted the help of Mary Essert, B.A.,
ATRIC & co-creater of Breast
Cancer Recovery - On Land and In Water, to help us
understand how water exercise can help to prevent and treat
"Water work has proved to be a
comfortable technique for individuals to begin exercise for
cancer prevention or pre- / post- surgery," says Essert. "Warm
water provides a soothing environment in which to improve
range of motion with reduced danger of injury." Cancer
patients can also experience bone and joint pain caused by
treatment and medications, and water's natural buoyancy is a
welcome relief from that pain making it easier to exercise.
Water therapy can also improve an individual's mental attitude
by providing emotional support from peers or a therapist.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “1 in
8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.” The best way
to lower this statistic is by removing the risks we can
control. Although there are uncontrollable risks like genetic
disposition, weight loss and moderate exercise can
significantly lower controllable risks.
Obesity: A recent study
conducted by the American Cancer Society found that overweight
women are 1.3 to 2.1 times more likely to die from breast
cancer compared to those with a normal weight. Essert
recommends weight loss as a preventative measure first and
foremost. "Seek to lose weight, follow a sound nutrition
program, avoid drinking alcohol, choose healthy fats and eat
more soy, fresh fruits and vegetables."
"Regular exercise at a moderate intensity will provide an
aerobic workout and increase endorphins," says Essert.
Moderate exercise 5x per week had the greatest impact on women
in a study involving 74,000 persons at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The researchers found that women who exercised regularly
reduced their risk of developing cancer by 20%.
Treatment: A review by
the ACS found that exercise provides a range of benefits to
women diagnosed with breast cancer. The benefits include
improved physical fitness, higher self-esteem, and lower
levels of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
recommends that women who have been diagnosed with breast
cancer exercise regularly (about four hours per week) to
improve their quality of life, physical fitness, as well as to
possibly reduce the risk of developing new cancers.
Before starting a water exercise program to enhance
cancer treatment, be sure that your therapist or aquatic
instructor/trainer is aware of your goals. In general, Essert
says, treatment goals for most cancer patients usually include
1. Restore range of motion / flexibility
to the shoulder, chest & auxiliary regions
pain caused by treatment, medication and the cancer
Reduce risks or symptoms associated with lymphedema
Reduce osteoporosis risk through weightbearing and other
exercise, strength training and balance activities
Improve endurance and aerobic capacity
6. Restore posture
through retraining of scapular muscles, rotator cuff (external
rotators) and middle back ( rhomboids, trapezius, lats)
Increase muscular strength & endurance to perform
8. Become educated on weight
management, nutrition & general wellness
relaxation & stress management
10. Gain support &
to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer
survivors make up the largest group of cancer survivors (22
percent). This percentile makes up over 20 million survivors
in the US
This statistic is very encouraging, however,
most survivors are not entirely in the clear. There are risks
of developing other cancers and conditions like lymphedema.
Many breast cancer survivors will also need rehabilitation
from surgery and chemotherapy.
Essert says that
knowing when to start water therapy for recovery is key. "This
is an individual judgment call, but should be discussed with
the physician and oncologist. However, the sooner one begins
to move, the better the result will be."
patients are no different from you except we have a bond with
the future. We want to stay here, be independent and lead a
healthy lifestyle while enjoying each day to the fullest.
Those of us who work and play and dance in the water have a
special gift to share for those to
the AquaBlog™: Lymphedema occurs in
about 10% to 20% of women treated for breast cancer. When
lymph nodes are removed or disrupted, a backup of lymph in
surrounding tissues can occur resulting in swelling &
increased risk of infection. How can aquatic
Naomi Aaronson, MA,OTR/L, CHT and
Mary Essert B.A., ATRIC are the co-authors of a new
interactive CD. Breast Cancer Recovery: On Land and In Water
empowers breast cancer survivors to move forward towards
wellness. Practitioners will learn how to work with clients on
land and in water safely and effectively when at lymphedema
risk. This CD is a 4 CEC course for many organizations. Copies
are available through Mary Essert at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.maryessert.com, or Naomi Aaronson at email@example.com or through Fitness
Learning Systems at www.fitnesslearningsystems.com. Special
Breast Cancer Month Price of only $48.00 including