As you go through your post-mastectomy healing journey, exercise plays a vital role in staying physically and mentally healthy. If you worked out avidly before surgery, you might need to modify your routine, especially during the months immediately following the procedure. For those who are naturally less active, adding some exercise to your lifestyle can help speed recovery and reduce pain. Follow these exercise tips to help you with your post-mastectomy recovery.

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for women who have had a mastectomy. Many women feel hesitant about this option post-surgery because they feel self-conscious in a swimsuit. The good news is you don’t have to avoid getting in the pool when you have a specialized bathing suit, such as an Anita post-mastectomy swimsuit.

Start Slow

Before beginning any new exercise routine, it is essential to consult with your physician, but this is even more crucial after surgery. Talk to your health care team about your specific needs and listen carefully to their recommendations. A physiotherapist can suggest a stretching routine that will help to prevent any post-surgery limitations, such as reduced range of motion in your arms.

Generally, it is safe to begin light exercise, such as walking, in the week following your surgery. Gentle stretching, such as shoulder shrugs and arm raises can help reduce pain and aid your recovery. After the first week, you can increase your stretching to include side bends and snow angels.

Listen to Your Body

You may have a drain in place after your surgery, but gentle stretching can still be done. Just pay attention to avoid any vigorous movements that might disrupt the drain or open the incision. If you notice any increased swelling or if the area becomes tender, consult with your doctor before continuing to exercise.

In the six weeks post-surgery, you can do small activities, such as light housework, but be careful to avoid lifting anything more than ten pounds. It is imperative you listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop whatever you are doing and take a rest. With your stretching, some discomfort will be normal, but pain is a warning sign that you are doing too much.

After six weeks, you should be able to participate in most forms of exercise, though strenuous activity is still to be avoided. You can begin to re-build strength using light 1-2-pound weights. If you don’t have easy access to a gym, try using a can of soup to do simple arm exercises at home.

Find an Exercise You Love

Walking, biking and swimming are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise that can help with your overall cardiovascular and mental health. Finding an activity that you enjoy doing can make exercising the highlight of your day. After your initial healing phase, join a new yoga class or find a friend to go for a brisk walk.

Many women are self-conscious to exercise in public after their mastectomy, but there is a wide range of clothing options to ensure you are comfortable during your workout. If you are a runner or cyclist, Amoena offers a mastectomy sports bra that is both supportive and comfortable.

Swimming is a particularly great post-recovery exercise because it strengthens your upper body and supports cardiovascular health. There is no need to avoid public pools with the amazing range of post-mastectomy swimwear that is available. One great option is to buy an Anita post-mastectomy swimsuit with built-in breast prosthesis pockets, so you can use swim forms to feel confident and fashionable while in the water.

No matter what exercise you do, start slowly, listen to your body, and make sure you enjoy yourself. Exercise is a way to say “I love you” to your body. Post-surgery, your body needs extra love and care as it heals and strengthens. Working together with your health team, you can aid the healing process by including exercise in your post-surgery self-care routine.