It just makes sense: If you want to be healthy, you must MOVE YOUR BODY! Besides cardio workouts, however, there are other types of movement that can be incorporated into the daily routine of anyone on the Healthy Breast path. One of them is stretching—and the specific benefits of these movements may surprise you!
What Research Says about Movement, Stretching and Breast Cancer
To date, there have been dozens of studies that have proven the link between staying active and lower Breast Cancer risk. One of the most impressive was a French investigation at the Centre for Research and Epidemiology and Population Health. Researchers there studied 60,000 post-menopausal women for four years. They found that the women who walked at least four hours a week had a significantly lower risk of Invasive Breast Cancer compared to those who did not.
Studies also confirm the health benefits of non-cardio exercise. Certain kinds of stretching, especially twists, can help to detoxify the body and infuse blood with oxygen as well as positively affect the adrenals, thyroid, pancreas and other endocrine glands. But the most important advantage to daily stretching can be found in what it can do to “switch on” the healing mechanisms of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Studies About Stretching and Breast Cancer Recovery
Maybe you have attended a yoga class before or perhaps you have been hesitant to give it a try because it just seemed a bit too “woo woo.” Yoga is a method of stretching for physical health and mental well-being that has been used for thousands of years in India. Over the last fifty years or so, however, yoga as it is practiced in the west has taken on many forms. If you are sensitive to the religious origins of yoga, you can incorporate many of the stretching exercises and by pass the “spiritual” aspect that some people adhere to.
In addition, evidence-based research has shown the link between certain kinds of stretching and help with Breast Cancer recovery. Doing gentle and modified forms of stretching can also benefit women with lymphedema, which occurs in 20% of women who have had traditional Breast Cancer treatment.
A 2009 study conducted by Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina found that women with Breast Cancer who underwent 10 weekly 75-minute stretching classes had improved mental health and less instances of depression compared to a control group after the same amount of time. Those who were more affected by negative mental states at the beginning of the study found the greatest improvement overall.
Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine Movements
The potential healing power of mindful stretching has a lot to do with how these movements encourage the body to slip gently into the “relaxation response.” It is only when the body is in this mode (as opposed to “fight or flight”) that specific healing mechanisms can be “turned on” within the immune system.
In fact, studies with Breast Cancer patients found that when the body is in the relaxation response, the production of Natural Killer cells, those immune system cells that are responsible for hunting out and destroying cancer cells, increases and the effectiveness of these cells improve as well.
Another form of practice that turns on healing responses through gentle movement was created by energy medicine pioneer Donna Eden and her husband David Feinstein. After 40-plus years of practice and teaching, Donna and David are still helping people all over the world become health-empowered with their movement techniques, which combine information on the Chinese Meridian system with EFT/tapping, simple stretches and more. An up-to-date and very inspiring short video about their work, including visuals of what some of their movement techniques look like, can be found HERE.
The two modalities above are just some examples of effective structured stretching routines that thousands of women participate in for health. They are by far not the only ones, however. Other stretching practices include Pilates, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi/Chi Gong and chair stretching, which is great for those with disabilities, older individuals and those recovering from surgery or injury.
Through just a few minutes of stretching every day, you will be helping your body become supple, keep lymphatic fluids flowing and turn on the “relaxation response.” Any way you look at it, if you are on a Healthy Breast path, a little bit of daily stretching can only do good for both your body and mind!