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Weight training boosts breast cancer survivors' body image and intimate relationship satisfaction
Date:11/3/2009

In addition to building muscle, weightlifting is also a prescription for self-esteem among breast cancer survivors, according to new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine research. Breast cancer survivors who lift weights regularly feel better about bodies and their appearance and are more satisfied with their intimate relationships compared with survivors who do not lift weights, according to a new study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Survivors' self-perceptions improved with weight lifting regardless of how much strength they gained during the year-long study, or whether they suffered from lymphedema, an incurable and sometimes debilitating side effect of breast surgery.

"It looks like weight training is not only safe and may make lymphedema flare ups less frequent, but it also seems help women feel better about their bodies," says senior author Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a member of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "The results suggest that the act of spending time with your body was the thing that was important not the physical results of strength."

The new insights come from a randomized controlled trial that tested the impact of twice-weekly weight lifting for 12 months on survivors' health and emotional status. In the first report from the trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August, Schmitz and colleagues found that lymphedema sufferers who lifted weights were less likely to experience a worsening of their arm-swelling condition.

But the benefits extend further: Survivors who participated in regular weight-lifting during the trial had a 12 percent improvement in their body image and satisfaction with their intimate relationships over the 12 months of the study, compared with a 2 percent improvement reported by the women in the control group of the study. Both groups of women bene
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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