Exercise and Breast Cancer Prevention | Move your Body!

by Natalie on April 29, 2011

So we all know that physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It is a given. But did you know that physical activity can specifically help protect against breast cancer?

My continued investigation of the World Cancer Research Fund’s Second Expert Report on cancer prevention reveals this information. (I told you I would be featuring a lot of information from this report!)

Physical activity works to protect against breast cancer in the following ways:

  1. It decreases serum estrogen and androgens in post-menopausal women.
  2. In pre-menopausal women, physical activity decreases circulating estrogens, increases menstrual cycle length and decreases ovulation. All of which help to protect against breast cancer in this age group of women.

According to the report, post-menopausal women are most likely to benefit from this effect.

Recommendations for Activity

The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute on Cancer Research recommend to be moderately active, such as brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes per day.

As fitness improves, they recommend you aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity, such as brisk walking everyday. OR 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity everyday.

Examples of Moderate Activity:

  • Brisk Walking
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Swimming

Examples of Vigorous Activity

  • Running
  • Tennis
  • Football and other team sports like soccer


Some examples of activities on the moderate list could be categorized as vigorous depending on how you perform them. If the activity raises your heart rate and produces sweat, it is most likely a vigorous activity. I have even been to a yoga class that got my heart beating and caused me to sweat bullets!

The activity still counts if you break it up through out the day. For example, if you walk briskley 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes back, that would count as your 60 minutes of moderate activity. The exercise does not have to be performed in one chunk of time.

Regular, consistent physical activity also protects against colon, endometrial, lung and pancreatic cancer. It also decreases obesity, another major risk factor for cancer.

To make things really simple, I will boil down the recommendations on physical activity into 3 words:


Question: What is your favorite form of exercise? Leave a comment in the comments section. I have been really into Zumba lately. It is a blast and a great workout. I highly recommend it!



World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research: The Second Expert Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer, 2007.


Photo by: Mike Baird

Marilyn April 30, 2011 at 7:30 am

So true. A good workout or a long brisk walk with the dog not only makes me feel good physically but it gives me energy for the day and a great lookout on life.

Natalie April 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

Walking a pet is a great motivator to get exercise in!

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