Being inactive for large amounts of your day can make it more likely that you’ll develop chronic health conditions. Extensive research also shows that increasing physical activity levels can lower your risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But here's an added exercise benefit: It may also lower your risk for breast cancer.
The Exercise And Cancer Connection
Exercise affects the body in many positive ways. For one, when combined with a healthy eating plan, it helps you get down to or maintain a healthier weight. This helps prevent serious health conditions, in addition to making you feel and look better.
Research shows that fat loss is a major factor in reducing your risk for postmenopausal breast cancer. One study showed about a 20% lower risk of breast cancer in study participants who exercised the most compared to those who exercised the least, regardless of family history.
Even women at a greater risk for breast cancer benefitted from increased exercise. These findings suggest that even a modest level of physical activity is associated with reduced breast cancer risk across the risk spectrum.
Reasons You'll Benefit From Exercise
There are several reasons why exercise may help lower the risk of developing cancer, although the exact reason is still not fully understood. These include:
- Helping to prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for many cancers
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving immune system function, which can help slow the growth of cancer cells
- Lowering estrogen levels, which is associated with cancer development and progression
- Preventing high insulin levels, which is also associated with cancer development and progression
The American Cancer Society® recommends that during a week, adults spend at least 150 minutes doing moderate exercise or 75 minutes doing intense exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to head to a gym or go for a run. Any physical activity you can add to your day helps.
Ways To Improve Your Physical Activity
For some people, getting in the recommended amount of physical activity is a challenge. Being inactive is a natural part of many people’s daily routines. Working from home can make it even harder to move much during work hours. Because of this, it takes a little more effort to find ways to move — but it’s worth the effort.
Are You Higher Risk for Breast Cancer?
There are a lot of factors that increase your breast cancer risks. Are you at high risk, and is it in your genes?
Here are some suggestions to get your body moving more:
- Wear a pedometer or activity tracker as motivation to increase your daily steps
- Use a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical while watching TV
- Choose the stairs over the elevator whenever possible
- Park further from your destination when you go out to increase how much you walk
- Take a walk on your lunch break or during a phone meeting
- Leave the office/house to buy lunch instead of delivery and walk to pick it up if possible
- Catch up with your spouse, partner, kids, or friends while strolling around the neighborhood
There are so many reasons to embrace a more active lifestyle. Lowering your risk of breast cancer may be one more reason to add to the list.
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