Breast cancer claims the lives of an astounding 40,000 American women each year. Now both experts and Gold’s Gym want women across the country to recognize that exercise can play a key role in preventing and fighting one of the country’s most deadly killers.
“Studies show that 25 percent of breast cancer cases can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle and the weight gain that often accompanies it,” said Ruth Ennis, a Gold’s Gym Personal Trainer with extensive experience working with cancer patients. “Higher levels of body fat on the body can lead to increased levels of estrogen, which in turn can be a precursor to cancer. Exercise also enhances the immune system and its ability to fight cancer cells.”
According to the American Cancer Society, women should be moderately active for at least 30 minutes, five or more days per week to help cut their risk of developing breast cancer. “This can be a combination of cardiorespiratory and strength training,” said Ennis.
And the sooner you start the better. Studies have shown that women who report high levels of physical activity beginning as young as age 16 may be able to cut their risk of developing breast cancer after menopause in half, compared to women who reported no strenuous activity.
For women undergoing cancer treatment, fitness and exercise still play a crucial role by helping to reduce depression, anxiety and treatment side effects like muscle loss, nausea and fatigue.
“When a patient has undergone chemotherapy, they often report symptoms of diminished strength, muscle mass, low cardio fitness and overall weakness,” says Ennis. “Exercise is the one tool the patient always has at their disposal, helping to empower them during the tough times.”
Exercise also helps prevent recurrence of cancer; even moderate amounts of regular exercise — a half-hour walk a few times a week — could reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer recurrence by one-quarter to one-half.
This October, do more to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: fight the disease by maintaining your active lifestyle. Visit your local Gold’s Gym for more information and advice on starting a fitness program today.