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Breast Cancer - Choose Pilates

Breast cancer is the leading type of cancer-causing death in women worldwide, affecting 1,2 million new cases/year. The incidence of the disease is expected to grow worldwide due to the aging of the population, risk factors related to lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity (Espíndula, 2017).

Post-treatment for breast cancer provides to patients a number of weaknesses. The pilates method aims to aid in symptom relief by helping patients regain functionality, improve performance in daily life activities and help reduce fatigue and improve quality of life. Lastly, pilates exercise may be a complementary intervention, additionally to standard treatment (Espíndula, 2017).

At this point it should be noted that Pilates is a workout system based on the main movements of the body, encouraging the performance of a mind-body connection, using principles such as: breathing, concentration, body alignment, precision, control, rhythm and endurance (Espíndula, 2017).

According to individual studies, pilates is better than home-based exercises and no-exercise at all, for breast cancer patients. The studies also showed that home-based exercise or pilates are better than no exercise on fatigue, range of motion, mood and it does not bring risks. Generally, pilates or even home-based exercise should be encouraged for women with breast cancer (Espíndula, 2017).

Other options that were examined in the literature (except Pilates) is belly dance. Both can improve physical and psychological quality of life. In view of the high prevalence of breast cancer among women, the implementation of a specific protocol of Pilates solo and belly dancing for patients with breast cancer is important. Pilates solo and belly dancing are two types of physical activity that involve mental and physical concentration, music, upper limb movements, femininity, and social involvement. An intervention with these two physical activities could offer options of supportive care to women with breast cancer undergoing treatment, with the aim being to improve physical and psychological quality of life (Boing,, 2020).

There is another study showing that belly dance and the Mat Pilates can bring positive results in the range of movement of women undergoing adjuvant treatment of breast cancer, with the Pilates method being the one that most contributed to improvements in this variable (Leite,, 2021).

In addition, it was found that using water exercise intervention is more effective for improving emotional well-being and decreasing negative symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment compared with Pilates and yoga interventions, while yoga was more effective in improving social/family well-being (Odynets,, 2019).


Workout can bring positive results to breast cancer patients, especially pilates belly dance and water based exercise. Always consult your doctor.


Espíndula, R. C., Nadas, G. B., Rosa, M., Foster, C., Araújo, F. C., & Grande, A. J. (2017). Pilates for breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Revista da Associacao Medica Brasileira (1992), 63(11), 1006–1012.

Odynets, T., Briskin, Y., & Todorova, V. (2019). Effects of Different Exercise Interventions on Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Integrative cancer therapies, 18, 1534735419880598.

Leite, B., de Bem Fretta, T., Boing, L., & Coutinho de Azevedo Guimarães, A. (2021). Can belly dance and mat Pilates be effective for range of motion, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms of breast cancer women?. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 45, 101483. Advance online publication.

Boing, L., do Bem Fretta, T., de Carvalho Souza Vieira, M., Pereira, G. S., Moratelli, J., Sperandio, F. F., Bergmann, A., Baptista, F., Dias, M., & de Azevedo Guimarães, A. C. (2020). Pilates and dance to patients with breast cancer undergoing treatment: study protocol for a randomized clinical trial - MoveMama study. Trials, 21(1), 35.

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