PUBLISHED ON: 16 January 2018

It can be difficult getting into exercise after breast cancer. Audrey gives her top tips on how to get started.

Audrey exercising

1. Know when is right for you

Treatment for breast cancer is so harsh it can take a long time for you to regain your energy, let alone start exercising. I took things very easy during my treatment and for the two months after I stopped my radiotherapy.

I then gradually started walking my dog again and going out for longer walks. I also took a block of 'basic yoga', which was a great way to relax and build strength gradually.

Research shows losing weight slowly and steadily is the best way to keep it off and just ten minutes walking a day is a great start.

2. Find something you enjoy

Audrey doing yoga

Yoga, Zumba, the gym, walking, running, cycling, swimming… the options are endless. Try a few things until you find something you enjoy. It is so much easier when exercise lifts your mood as well as improving your health.

I love walking with my dog but I get bored easily so I listen to audiobooks while I walk and love it. It’s a little bit of time just for me, it gets me out of the house and I find it very relaxing.

Paying monthly for the Audible app is much more economical than buying the books individually. 

3. Get a pal

Friends walking

This makes a huge difference for me. It is so easy to make up an excuse not to go to your class or the gym if you're on your own.

If you’ve got a friend relying on you, before you know it you’ll be in a great habit. Make sure you pick someone reliable, or you may end up ditching classes more than actually turning up.

I walk every Wednesday with a great friend of mine. We are so busy gabbing we end up walking for two hours sometimes. Even if it’s raining, we both stick on caps and a jacket and brave the weather.

4. Make it a habit

Picking set times to exercise each week really helps to get you in to an exercise habit, and will stop you having the ‘Will I? Won't I?’ debate, as it just becomes part of your daily routine. Maybe you go to yoga on a Tuesday night, or swim on a Friday morning.

Try to choose times that you will always be free and that you know you won't find an excuse to duck out of. So if you work late on a Thursday it's probably not a great night to try to squeeze in the gym too. Setting a reminder on your mobile might also help.

5. Set a goal and reward yourself

Start with something small and attainable, like trying to walk an extra 10 minutes a day three times a week, go to a pilates class every Saturday, or do a Pink Ribbon Walk for Breast Cancer Care

Try to do it for a month, even noting your progress on the calendar or in your diary. Pick a little treat if you achieve your goal like a new top or a massage. Then build up gradually, increasing your target each month.

Remember, little changes go a long way, and even just getting off your bus a few stops earlier and walking will help you improve your fitness and lose weight.

Originally published in Audrey's blog, Cancer With A Smile.

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