Choosing your winter physical activity during breast cancer treatment

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Being physically active throughout the cancer treatment process has many benefits, including reducing fatigue, improving mood, maintaining muscle mass, increasing tolerance to medications, and more. However, it is sometimes difficult to maintain motivation and to find physical activities adapted to the weather once winter arrives. Many people find it more difficult to stay active when the temperature drops. So here are some tips to keep you moving all year round following a breast cancer diagnosis.

How to choose the right activity  

Incorporating physical activity into your routine as soon as possible is recommended, but don’t forget that the primary goal is to feel better and have fun doing it, so choose an activity you enjoy! Endurance, strength training or stretching… whatever your choice of physical activity, you must remain cautious and always take your situation into account. Your healthcare team is your best resource for assessing your physical condition and recommending appropriate activities. 

How to try to get motivated 

You could start by setting an objective… and remember, no goal is too small! The important thing is to move regularly in order to make progress and reduce the amount of time spent sitting or lying down. Don’t rush; take it a step at a time and respect your own pace and limits. Because all bodily movement is considered physical activity, there are many ways to be active in your daily life: choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, doing household chores, playing with your children, and so on.

Being active outdoors is also possible 

You can also be active outdoors in winter. Walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or outdoor muscle-strengthening exercises may be possibilities, depending on how you are feeling. However, in order to fill up on vitamin D safely, a few precautions should be taken. Here are some tips for staying active while enjoying the beautiful scenery:

  • Move when your energy levels are high and take advantage of the daylight;
  • To reduce the risk of injury, take time to warm up before going outdoors;
  • To avoid the risk of falling, pay attention to your footing and stay off the ice if possible. Think about using crampons or walking poles for more stability;
  • Even though the cold reduces the sensation of thirst, it is still important to stay well-hydrated when exercising in winter;
  • The body expends more energy in the cold, so make sure you have eaten before going out;
  • Protect your extremities with weather-appropriate and comfortable gloves, shoes, and socks. Don’t expose yourself to the cold for too long and avoid extreme cold;
  • If possible, go out with someone for motivation and safety! 

Move safely with the My Active HealthTM program 

Oncology yoga sessions 

The Foundation offers
The Foundation offers you the opportunity to maintain adapted physical activity throughout the year by registering for free oncology yoga sessions. These classes taught by specialists trained in the practice of adapted yoga are free of charge under certain conditions. Go here to find free My Yoga classes near you. 

To get moving while remaining in the comfort of your own home, the My Active Health program also offers another tool:

My Active Health private Facebook group

No matter where you live, you can practice varied and effective exercises to increase your flexibility, support your muscle building and reduce stress and fatigue! Discover these video capsules produced by a kinesiologist, specialized in oncology, on the page of the private Facebook group Ma Santé Active of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

My Active Health mobile app 

The My Active Health mobile application is also a good tool to help you stay motivated and support you in reaching your goals. The app helps you incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your day-to-day life by proposing a varied repertoire of exercises, the ability to plan your workout, and tracking and optimizing your medication intake. This complete application enables you to plan and accurately monitor your health routine.