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Live Healthy, Atlanta! Thought Leader

Exercise Key to Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and organizations everywhere have “gone pink” to support the cause. Advocates will highlight risk factors, detection, treatment and prevention of the disease. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. This month, a new study from the American Cancer Society suggests that physical activity – even walking – can substantially reduce your chances of developing breast cancer.

The findings in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention are encouraging. The study followed postmenopausal women from 50 to 74 for 17 years. The women who exercised regularly significantly reduced their risk of breast cancer. Walking for an hour a day (seven days a week) reduced breast cancer risk by 14 percent. Women could reduce their risk of breast cancer by 25 percent if they engaged in vigorous exercise for seven hours a week.

The medical community has long espoused the benefits of exercise. Recent studies show that exercise can improve memory, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and improve sleep. The CDC recommends that adults spend 150 minutes a week engaged in moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of robust activity. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that 80 percent of women aren’t meeting the minimum. If you want to reduce your risk of breast cancer (and a host of other health problems) start an exercise regimen today.

How to Incorporate a Regular Exercise Regimen Into Your Life

Set a goal and start slow. Losing a few pounds, improving your stamina and strengthening your muscles are great beginner goals. Remember that people can’t go from zero to 60 – if you haven’t been exercising at all, set a realistic commitment. Start with a twice-weekly walk around the park. Invite a few friends along or join an established group. Once you’re feeling strong, add more walks, begin jogging or sign up for a tennis class.

Don’t neglect strength training. Many people associate exercise and improved health with cardiovascular training. Running, swimming, or spinning classes are all good for you but are best when practiced alongside strength training. Again, if you’re beginning a regimen, don’t take on too much at once. Start incorporating strength training into your life with bodyweight exercises. These include sit-ups, push ups, lunge, and planks. Set an achievable goal, like completing ten push-ups and work your way up. When you need a bigger challenge, start incorporating weights into your routine.

Schedule exercise just like you would anything else. Prioritize your health. At the end of a long day, the last thing most of us want to do is go for a run. Set aside time specifically for walking, running, or strength training. The CDC recommends 150 minutes minimum – that’s just two and a half hours! It may help to sign up for a pre-paid class to have the added incentive of not letting money go to waste.

Involve your family. Exercise is good for everyone and is much more enjoyable as a group activity. Spend time with your family while you all reap the benefits of improved health. Go for a hike, sign up for a class, spend some time at the pool or just take a walk around your neighborhood. The family that exercises together thrives together. You can encourage each other along the way and teach children a healthy habit that will last a (much longer) lifetime.


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