July 10, 2012

Eric Shepperd

Don’t (Meno)Pause Your Workout: Stay Active To Prevent Cancer

So, jumping on that treadmill or going for a run with the dog can help prevent cancer?

It’s true!

In fact, according to the study published in Cancer, women who were active in their childbearing years and those who began a workout routine in their menopausal years both reported lower rates of breast cancer than those who were sedentary.

And, the news gets better; the regime need not be militant to be effective.

The study

The study included 1,500 women with breast cancer and 1,550 cancer-free women, all the same age. All were interviewed about their lifetime exercise habits and other lifestyle factors, like smoking and drinking.

Those who had exercised for 10 to 19 hours a week in their “reproductive years” were one-third less likely to have breast cancer than women who had been sedentary during that time. Women who started exercising after menopause also had a lower risk. If they averaged nine to 17 hours a week, they were 30 percent less likely to have breast cancer than their inactive peers.

Now, while exercise alone will not prevent any disease, this news means that women of every age should be stepping away from their computers at work as well as getting off the couch and moving on a regular basis.

Getting moving

Some of the best activities for women past childbearing years are low impact in nature. These can include walking with a friend, stretching, physical therapy, swimming or water aerobics, yoga or Tai Chi, gardening, golf or tennis, biking, hiking or lightweight training.

Water aerobics is an especially popular choice in the Arizona summer.

Swimming and water aerobics can help get one’s heart rate up without putting undue stress on the body. And, because the bones and joints are at a minimal risk of sustaining pain or injury when exercising in water, swimming and water aerobics are especially good options for those suffering from arthritis, neck and back pain or obesity.

As an added bonus, water aerobics group fitness classes — and really most group fitness settings — encourage social interaction, which is really important to emotional well-being in all stages of life and produces some added “bonus” benefits including:

  • Renewed determination: A class environment pushes you to complete the entire workout rather than quit as soon as a tiny bit of fatigue kicks in.
  • Social interaction: When you spend a few hours a week with the same people sweating together, you’re bound to form a bond or two.
  • Moral support: As the class grows stronger together, the kudos you reward one another will help to build self-confidence as well.
  • On-going motivation: When you know others are expecting your presence for a water aerobics class or a swim session, you’re less likely to give in to the urge to skip the workout.

A note on safety

Almost as important as the workout you choose are the safety precautions you take in order to continue the routine in the long-term. Some best bets:

  • Don’t overdo it: Too much too soon will cause injury.
  • Choose an activity that can be become part of your life.
  • Make it social: Why walk alone when you can call a neighbor or friend?
  • Be comfortable: Wear loose-fitted clothing and proper shoes.
  • Always warm up before and stretch after a workout to keep muscles loose.
  • Drink water before and after your workout — at least eight glasses a day.

An active lifestyle is always in fashion. And cancer never is. For more information, visit canceraz.com.