In a study of almost 3000 women with Stage 1 to Stage 3 breast cancer, researchers found that women who exercised after being diagnosed with breast cancer had significantly better overall survival and decreased risk of recurrence versus women who did not exercise.
Women who walked 3 – 5 hours each week at a moderate pace (2 – 2.9 miles per hour) had the most benefit, and those whose tumors were hormone positive had the biggest improvements. It is important to realize that women who walked more than 1 hour each week had improved survival versus those who did not walk at all. This points out that doing even a little bit of walking each day, or a few days/week, was more beneficial than not doing any exercise.
Unfortunately, fewer than ⅓ of breast cancer survivors are exercising at the level recommended by the the Center for Disease Control which is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
The overall message: exercise after breast cancer can reduce survival. And even if you cannot walk 3-5 hours each week, know that even a little exercise can go a long way.
Source: Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D. Kroenke CH, Colditz GA. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. JAMA. 2005 May25;293(20):2479-86.