Training to Prevent Lymphedema: Starting Slow?

Last Modified: January 12, 2011


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I was not very active before my breast cancer diagnosis. I want to try to help myself now. Is there a way to "start slow"? there an exercise program you recommend?


Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, Cancer Rehabilitation Researcher at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

I'm glad you are ready to get moving! The PAL intervention DOES start slow - you should start with either 1 lb weights or even no weights and the increase in the amount you lift should be really slow - one pound increases after a week or two with no changes in arm symptoms. Start out by getting a good evaluation from a physical therapist and learning the exercises from the PT, then you can continue on your own. Be sure to check in with the PT if your arm symptoms change. Good luck to you!!!

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the entire transcript: Physical Activity & Lymphedema (PAL) Trial Results with Dr. Kathryn Schmitz,PhD, MPH Webchat.