Exercise & Aromatase inhibitors
Arimidex, Femara, Aromasin

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It is a misconception that exercise should be avoided following a diagnosis of cancer. There are several good reasons why exercise is particilarly helpful especially if taking one of the drugs called aromatase inhibitors, Arimidex (anastrozole), femar (letrozole) or Aromasin (exemestane):-

Nausea - a mild feeling of sickness is  not uncommon after taking these drugs. This may be relieved by taking your tablet with foods or milk or at night. Mild nausea usually wears off after a few weeks but a walk or jog in the fresh air does wonders for this. 

Lethargy - Some women feel tried on these drug. The severity can vary but if it affects your quality of life the doctor should be informed, although lethargy does tend to wear off over time. Cancer and certainly its therapies often cause fatigue. Light and stimulating exercise can help to reduce this. This has to carefully balanced. Although plenty of rest is important, between these times it is better to be active. For example a sleep after lunch may be required but then it would be useful to put on a pair of training shoes and go for walk in the open - preferably in pleasant stimulating surroundings such as a park or riverbank. Although this seems a great effort at first, patients often find their overall levels of fatigue are reduced.  

Blood clots - These therapies slightly increase the risk of thrombosis in the veins (although not as bad as tamoxifen) - particularly if there is any disease in the pelvis or lower abdomen. Regular exercise cause the blood to be pumped through the veins and reduce the risk of it stagnating and clotting in the veins.

Weight gain - ait common to put on weight at this time. This may be due to the aromatase inhibitor themselves or other associated factors. Clearly regular light exercise will reduce the risk of weight gain. 

Depression and lower mood - a rare side effect - Exercise increases the bodies endomorphines which elevate mood.

Bone loss - Compared to tamoxifen there is a hiher incidence of bone loss (osteopenia or if severe osteoporosis) which may lead to an increased risk of fractures  after prolonged use. In some instances it is appropriate to monitor the bone density with a scan (dexa scan). Certainly it is advisable to exercise regularly and this has strongly been linked to improved bone density - particularly if it is weight baring. 

How can I increase the amount of exercise?

Exercise should be fun, sociable and enjoyable so the most important factor is to do something you like. Exercising with other people is often better. If a friend or relative asks "How can I help?" then the answer is simple - exercise with me. 

The opportunities are endless. Walking or gentle jogging is often a good first step. To get started, its important to buy all the kit so spoil your self and buy a nice track suit and trainers. Start by a walk or jog around your local park or just around the block. Timing yourself adds a bit of a challenge - try to knock off a few seconds each week. Don't worry if you think you look silly. People have a lot more respect for people making an effort than couch potatoes even if they don't show it!

Joining a gym if there is a good one nearby can make exercise easier and more interesting. Again don't be put off by the thin girls in skimpy leotards or the big muscle men - You will still have everyone respect for making the effort. If you can join an exercise class even better. A good gym will cater for different standards. 

Ballroom dancing is coming back in fashion - an excellent exercise and sociable. Most towns have classes running regularly. Other types of dancing such as Salsa and Jive can also be good fun.  

Cycling is a great way to get your heart and lungs active. Good new or even second hand bikes are now quite cheap. You also have the satisfaction knowing that you helping the environment by not spewing toxic cancer inducing chemicals into the atmosphere every time we drive our cars.

The choice of exercise also depends on what is available in your area. A visit to your council run sports centre is always a good start. Swimming, basketball, badminton, bowling, tennis, exercise classes, walking clubs are often closer than you think.

The most important thing is to exercise regularly once or twice a week ideally.

Read more about the benefits of exercise and search for exercise facilities in your area.



Links and further resources:

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