(CARLSBAD, CA) – Fall has officially arrived. The month of October brings changing colors, raking leaves, haunted houses, and an important annual marker of health and wellness: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
If you’ve been paying attention to your doctor or health-related media, you’re probably aware of the most important means to battle breast cancer. Self-exams, mammograms, regular doctor visits, and healthy diet are all important components for prevention and early detection of breast cancer.
What may surprise you, however, is the role that exercise plays in preventing and battling breast cancer. Take a look at the role exercise plays during the pre-diagnosis, treatment, and post-treatment stages of breast cancer.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s never too soon to start using exercise as a tool to beat it. One recent research study tracked more than 1,200 women between the ages of 20-54 for 8-10 years. Researchers found that the women who were very active at the time of their cancer diagnosis had a 30% higher survival rate than their sedentary counterparts. In other words, getting active now can help you battle a potential cancer diagnosis in the future.
In the past, women were advised to avoid exercise while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Today, doctors are now touting the benefits of exercise. Not only does exercise promote better blood flow through the body and the brain, but it also improves mood and helps to minimize depression and anxiety. Additionally, exercise increases muscle strength. Since muscle mass is often lost during treatment, patients are now encouraged to work large muscle groups.
Perhaps most notably, exercise during treatment helps to maintain range of motion. Women battling breast cancer often experience pain or numbness in the chest, upper back, and armpit. If the lymph nodes are removed or radiation administered, patients may battle lymphedema, painful swelling in the arm and chest, which is caused by a build-up of protein-rich fluid that hasn’t drained properly. Exercise can actually help to prevent lymphedema and frozen shoulder. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that women with lymphedema who engage in strength training cut their painful flare-ups in half.
Recently, Jazzercise was at the forefront of a study at the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center at the University of Kansas Cancer Center (BCSC) that strongly indicated the importance of exercise for breast cancer survivors. The participants who attended Jazzercise classes over a six-month period lost 5.6% total body fat, 12.6% of their starting body weight, and 50% decrease of insulin level. The Jazzercise group also demonstrated increased flexibility, endurance, and heart rate, as well as minimized depression and fatigue. In essence, researchers concluded that breast cancer survivors who regularly exercise reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
So, if your version of exercise has been walking to the fridge during TV commercials, it’s time to add a little more movement into your daily routine. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett recommends that you start with a simple regimen for about 30-45 minutes, three times per week. Increase your intensity as you feel able, and incorporate strength training two or three times per week. If a svelte figure wasn’t reason enough to exercise in the past, saving your life is suxrely enough reason to start now.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,800 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.