We've heard it before: exercise can reduce a woman's risk for developing breast cancer. But how much and what types of exercise are we talking about? Here is some information on the relationship between breast cancer prevention and working out.
Exercising Often May Make You Reach Menopause Sooner
What? You're not thinking about menopause? If you're in your 20s or early 30s, I don't blame you, but a recent study shows that premenopausal women reached menopause sooner when they exercised often — eight to 10 hours per week. I know reaching menopause earlier, dealing with the hot flashes and irregular periods, isn't exactly every young woman's dream, but it may help with cancer prevention. During menopause a woman stops ovulating, which decreases her exposure to tumor-promoting estrogen. This is why early menopause is linked to lower breast cancer risk — another reason to get moving!
Keep on reading to find out three more ways exercise helps reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
Exercise Decreases Estrogen Levels, and Getting Enough Is Key
According to the National Cancer Institute, exercising four or more hours a week may decrease your hormone levels, which can help lower your risk of breast cancer. Four hours a week may not cut it, though. The American Cancer Society suggests that you exercise for 45 to 60 minutes, five or more days a week. A lifetime of regular, vigorous activity such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, hiking, and other heart-pumping workouts poses the greatest benefit.
Exercise Helps With Weight Control
Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces your risk of breast cancer, and regular exercise is one way to make that happen. In two large studies, women who gained 20 or more pounds after age 18 had an increased risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. That's because weight gained tends to be carried with you once you reach menopause, and since estrogen is stored in fat cells, being overweight once you hit menopause increases your risk of developing breast cancer by 30 to 60 percent.
Exercise Boosts Your Immune System
When your immune system is strong, it has the ability to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Another reason to lace up your sneakers!
If you need some workout ideas, look no further. If you're hitting the gym, try this 500-calorie-burning treadmill workout or this full-body elliptical workout. If want to burn fat and build muscle, check out our 10-minute workout with Jeanette Jenkins.