Breast Cancer and Physical Activity: How Exercise May Help

nutribullet | October 5, 2023

1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and notably, 1 in 3 women diagnosed with breast cancer will have a recurrence. While these statistics are staggering, the research on breast cancer is improving outcomes and saving lives. Since the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was founded, for example, deaths from breast cancer have declined by 40 percent. 

While there is no guaranteed method to eliminate your risk, there are well documented behaviors that help decrease risk such as stopping smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption and eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables. While this knowledge is more widespread, there is one common behavior that’s often overlooked: exercise. 

Frequency, Duration and Intensity

Numerous studies in recent years have looked at the relationship between breast cancer risk and regular exercise and have found that women who take part in physical exercise have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Exercise recommendations include a combination of both aerobic exercise and strength training.

For cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. Examples of effective physical activity include brisk walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, tennis, and golf (without a cart!). When weather doesn’t permit, think about walking around the mall, streaming an exercise video, or taking a class at your local gym. 

When it comes to strength training, it’s best to follow recommendations from a physician and a qualified personal trainer on the appropriate levels of weights and proper technique to avoid injury. This is especially important during the period after treatment or surgery, so as to not interfere with the healing process.

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to exercise is develop habits that are sustainable. That is, consistency is most important. Find activities that you love to do, invite a friend or family member, and integrate it into your daily or weekly routine.



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