Have you beaten breast cancer? Or do you know someone who has?
Then you know that overcoming the disease is only half the battle. Once you’re breast cancer free, you have to focus on staying healthy in the years to come, so you can live the long, happy life you deserve.
But when you’re adopting a healthier lifestyle post-cancer, it’s easy to go overboard. You want to live healthy. But you don’t want to get too rigid and stress yourself out in the process. That’s why you have to set priorities. And there’s one healthy habit you should prioritize above all else if you’re a breast cancer survivor (or even if you’re just focused on breast cancer prevention)…
Based on recent research, exercise is the one healthy habit that should be non-negotiable if you’ve battled breast cancer in the past — or want to prevent it in the future…
Breast cancer, metabolic syndrome and heart disease: A triple threat
Researchers from the University of Southern California recently confirmed that regular exercise could translate into better health — and possibly a lower relapse risk — for breast cancer survivors.
Their study included 100 breast cancer survivors who had finished chemotherapy less than six months prior. Researchers split them into two groups. One group didn’t exercise at all, and the other group exercised three times per week with a personal trainer. Four months later, those triweekly exercise sessions made a big difference in their health.
Breast cancer survivors who exercised drastically slashed their rates of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, excess body fat and high blood fat levels — that put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
At the beginning of the study, 77 percent of study participants had metabolic syndrome. At the end, 80 percent of people in the non-exercising group had it, but only 15 percent of the people in the exercising group had it.
But you may be wondering…what does metabolic syndrome have to do with breast cancer?
Well, metabolic syndrome raises your breast cancer risk by 17 percent. Even worse, breast cancer survivors with metabolic syndrome are three times more likely to have a breast cancer recurrence and two times as likely to die from the disease.
Metabolic syndrome also increases your risk of heart disease, and heart disease is the number one killer of breast cancer survivors. So if you want to prevent breast cancer, you need to prevent metabolic syndrome. And that’s where exercise comes in.
Battle metabolic syndrome (and breast cancer) through exercise
If you’re a breast cancer survivor, battling metabolic syndrome can be an uphill battle… especially if you already had the syndrome before you developed breast cancer.
But even if you didn’t, going through cancer and cancer treatment can make you more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. People who receive chemotherapy, for example, don’t have the energy to exercise. So they become sedentary during treatment. They may even get stuck in those sedentary ways after treatment is over, which puts them at risk for metabolic syndrome.
Of course, now that you know how much your life depends on exercise, you’re equipped to slay metabolic syndrome and stay cancer-free.
In the study, women completed a one-on-one workout with a personal trainer three times per week. Their workout routine included resistance training with weights and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. You can tell if an exercise is moderate intensity by using the talk test. You should be able to talk but not sing while doing it. Moderate intensity cardio activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, gardening, doubles tennis and bicycling (as long as you don’t go too fast).
So try to exercise at least three times per week. More if you can. Personally, I prefer to do shorter (30 minute) routines every day, than longer routines a few times per week.
And if you don’t have the money to hire a personal trainer, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to get fit on the cheap. Get your cardio by going for a brisk walk or jogging place. If you don’t own weights, use books or cans instead. Or better yet, do bodyweight resistance training exercises like push-ups, squats and lunges. There are tons of exercise videos — free to watch — here at Easy Health Options, for you to choose from.
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- Workouts may boost life span after breast cancer — MedicalXpress. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- M. Dieli-Conwright, et al. “Effects of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Metabolic Syndrome, Sarcopenic Obesity, and Circulating Biomarkers in Overweight or Obese Survivors of Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” — Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2018.
- Metabolic syndrome — Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- Measuring Physical Activity Intensity — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 23, 2018.