Breast Cancer and Water Exercise

560 315 Pam Devitt

Clinical research supports the benefit of water exercise for breast cancer survivors. 

Remaining active after breast cancer surgery can improve your emotions and your recovery. 

Exercise and activity are an essential part of our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.  We know that exercise is medicine, but research suggests this is especially true for breast cancer patients as a way to help overcome fatigue, depression, and muscle weakness. However, exercise can be painful and often difficult after surgery and during recovery.  Consulting with your doctor and easing yourself back into physical activity can bring healing in myriad ways.  Studies show that exercising in water can be the very best way to return to activity and improve health.  Fluid Running, one of the only aqua based exercises performed in deep water makes it ideal for so many people but especially for women diagnosed with breast cancer. 

According to, almost 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.  Gratefully treatment and survival rates have increased dramatically over the years, but some procedures have had adverse side effects on women’s physical and emotional health. Beneficial medical treatments that include chemotherapy and radiation can result in decreased physical fitness and physical activity performance as well as reduced self-esteem, mood alterations, stress, anxiety, and depression.  Breast cancer survivors can also encounter lymphedema, a painful swelling caused by either the removal or damage to lymph node glands.  Lymphedema often causes discomfort and a restricted range of motion, making any movement difficult and painful.  The result is that the diagnosis and treatment for so many women are just part of the challenge.  Finding ways to exercise safely can make the journey smoother.

Breast cancer survivors and aquatic exercise

The good news is that evidence suggests aquatic exercise, especially in deep water, can be both doable and beneficial for breast cancer survivors.  The water buoyancy eliminates gravity-induced stress on the muscular and skeletal system and allows for a greater range of motion. Being in the water also removes the fear of falling.  And the benefits of hydrostatic pressure are incredibly helpful to those with lymphedema. The water’s consistent compression helps decrease edema and return the lymph fluid to the vascular system.  Deep water works almost like a massage, continually improving circulation and reducing swelling and discomfort. 

Benefits of deep water exercise

Finally, research has supported the unique properties of water to improve mental and emotional health. The literature strongly indicates both anxiety and depression were reduced after water-based exercise.  Further study is needed to fully grasp the critical cognitive and emotional benefits of deep water immersion, but there is little doubt that water is calming and therapeutic.

Fluid Running is an ideal form of physical exercise for many recovering from cancer treatment.  Suspended in deep water, gravity is eliminated along with the pain often associated with land-based exercise.  Hydrostatic pressure works to increase circulation and reduce the discomfort and swelling from lymphedema.  Lastly, being in the water can improve mental and emotional wellbeing. Millions of women have battled against this terrible disease. Their strength and resilience are humbling and empowering.  We hope that Fluid Running may be one weapon in the arsenal to fight this disease by bringing physical, emotional, and mental wellness to the journey.

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