On Instagram yesterday Shannen Doherty shared an inspiring post about the healing power of exercise: A video clip shows the Charmed actress, who is currently undergoing radiation for breast cancer, following an instructor through a dance-cardio routine, waving her arms and shuffling her feet. "Any movement is so good during treatment, not just for the body, but for your mind as well," she wrote in the caption.
Not that it's easy, of course. Doherty also described what it's like to fight the fatigue that's a common side effect of her therapy: "Radiation is tiring. It builds up within you and sometimes one just struggles to keep their eyes open," Doherty wrote. "You can see how tired I am here but I'm still moving!!"
Research confirms she has the right idea. While doctors once believed it was best for breast cancer patients to rest and avoid major physical activity, recent studies suggest there are real benefits to exercising during treatment.
One study published last year in the Journal of Community Support looked at data from 1,175 women with breast cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. The researchers found that those who exercised regularly had better muscular strength, cardiovascular functioning, and overall quality of life compared to non-exercisers.
According to the American Cancer Society, staying active during treatment may also help lessen fatigue and nausea, maintain or boost physical ability, and improve balance.
And as Doherty mentioned, movement has serious mental health perks as well. Exercise is known as a powerful antidote to both depression and anxiety. One study on women with breast cancer found that those who worked out for 90 minutes a week not only felt less tired, but also experienced less emotional distress and had higher functioning ability compared to women who were less active during treatment.
With so many potential benefits, it's no wonder Doherty is committed to cardio. And with yet another candid post (the star has been sharing her cancer experience on social media over the last year and half) she continues to serve up inspiration and solidarity to her fellow "cancer slayers."