Although the late October Susan G. Komen walks have come and gone and 350 lb. NFL linemen are no longer wearing hot pink wrist bands and shoes, we cannot ignore the seriousness of breast cancer until next October.
We all know that exercise is good for us. According to the CDC, at least 2.5 hours per week of exercise will decrease your risk for early death, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and depression across both genders. In addition, research is continuing to support the significantly decreased risk of breast cancer in women who regularly exercise, according to Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine.
Specifically, exercise is beneficial in decreasing the risk for breast cancer because of weight loss. Fat isn’t just something we all want to get rid of because of how we look, but excessive fat causes an imbalance of hormones, such as estrogen, that can cause improper function of the cells in the breast tissue, which can lead to cancer. Of course, the mechanism behind all of this is more complicated and still not fully understood, but this is the basis of the dysfunction. Further, excessive fat not only affects the breast cells, it also affects other cells in the body, which can lead to other types of cancer.
Exercise, on the other hand, not only helps with weight loss, but also helps to reduce inflammation and chemical imbalance in your body that will make your internal environment less favorable for cancer development.
Osteoporosis, or abnormal bone thinning and loss, is also gaining more researcher attention. Specifically, post-menopausal women are at an increased risk for bone fractures if osteoporosis is not prevented or properly treated. However, what many don’t know (and what I didn’t realize before researching this article) is that women start to lose bone mass around the age of 30! I don’t want this to be a spoiler — but regular exercise also helps to prevent bone loss and subsequent osteoporosis.
Keep in mind that the type of exercise you perform to maintain bone mass is important. You must choose weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, running; in addition to, resistance training. When performing these types of exercises, your body adapts to the increased weight-bearing loads and makes your bones stronger in response.
Breast cancer and osteoporosis are two disease that nobody deserves to have. The good news is that you are in control! Choosing and committing to a regular fitness program can alter your risks, and hopefully prevent and/or treat these conditions. Learn to make 20 minutes of regular exercise per day a habit, and it will save you from a future of disease.