Discover a fun fitness alternative after a breast cancer diagnosis

Posted by admin on 03 July 2019

Managing health and fitness can be difficult after a breast cancer diagnosis. There is a common belief that upper body exercise can result in chronic and debilitating conditions, specifically lymphedema. Coupled with the side effects of cancer treatments and long term medications, this can leave many people feeling disheartened and struggling to maintain a regular effective routine, at a time when exercise is  more important than ever.

Fortunately, there is hope. The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks, in both a physical and emotional sense. There are lots of ways a person previously diagnosed with breast cancer can take control of their fitness and get their health back on track, such as general exercising, walking or running, healthy eating, dancing and more (like in our Classic Challenge).

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, one organisation offers Australians diagnosed with breast cancer a fun, socially inclusive activity while also getting their heart rates up and proving that there is a full, good life to be lived after such a devastating diagnosis.

Dragons Abreast Australia: Dragon boat racing for fun and fitness

Dragons Abreast Australia (DAA) is a national organisation that introduces people diagnosed with breast cancer to the wonderful and strenuous sport of dragon boat paddling, no matter their age or fitness level.

Dragon boating is an aquatic sport, where around 20 people paddle a 12-metre long boat. Competitive paddles are a fast sprint, typically between 200 – 2000 metres, however there are also longer, marathon paddles such as the recently completely Ord River Marathon, of 55 kilometers! The name comes from the dragon head and tail that features on the boats, symbolising control and power. Belonging to DAA means you can be as competitive or social as you like, some members have competed internationally, while others are happy to have a social paddle and catch up weekly. It’s all about the participation!

Having a positive impact on physical, social and emotional recovery

DAA is passionate about encouraging wellness, fitness, fun and camaraderie for people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. They spread awareness, empower individuals, and educate people about the benefits of an active lifestyle after a diagnosis. Paddling is a hugely effective cardio workout, impacting all the major muscle groups, improving tone and burning calories.

Dragon boat paddling not only improves physical health but also assists with emotional and social recovery after a breast cancer diagnosis. Members of DAA love the fun, social aspect of working as a team, supporting each other to reach fitness goals and regain control of a ‘normal’ life. Recently, 120 of their members completed a 55 KM continuous paddle on the Ord River in Western Australia: a big achievement!

How to get involved

If you think this sounds like the fitness motivation you’ve been waiting for, DAA are always excited to welcome new crew aboard. They organise regular Come and Try events all around Australia, which you can find out about on their website. You can also read about the scientific study, performed by Dr. Don McKenzie, that kickstarted the dragon boating movement back in 1996.