Hitting the weights provides a major boost to breast cancer survivors trying to regain muscle and bone strength lost due to cancer treatment and physical inactivity, according to new research.

A Florida State University (FSU) study, published in the academic journal Healthcare, outlined how a weight training programme can help female breast cancer survivors repair chemotherapy-weakened bodies and help them get back to living their lives.

“Cancer treatment causes this accelerated ageing,” said study author and FSU professor of exercise science Lynn Panton.

“What we are finding is that many breast cancer survivors are very weak in the upper body.”

Weight or resistance training has been shown to help reverse many of these problems. In Panton’s study, participants’ physical functionality improved by an average of 12 per cent after participating in a six-month weight training programme at FSU.

The participants’ functionality was measured by the Continuous-Scale Physical Functional Performance Test, which is a 10-item assessment that simulates routine chores such as doing laundry, sweeping, packing and carrying groceries, walking up bus stairs and taking a jacket on and off.

Panton’s team is now exploring how other types of exercise programmes – such as high intensity interval training (HIIT) – helps women to regain lost muscle mass and possibly bone density following chemotherapy.

The case for increasing exercise levels to prevent and recover from breast cancer, has been supported by numerous studies.. Previous research has shown that exercise can slow the growth of breast cancer tumours, while separate research has highlighted the role that exercise can play in recovery after sufferers enter remission.