It probably goes without saying that getting some exercise can significantly reduce your chances of falling prey to a number of debilitating diseases and unfortunate medical conditions, the list for which is far longer than anyone would ever like to contemplate. The medical research on this subject backs up the claim, but did you know that it also suggests that the type of exercise in which you engage is proportional to the benefit? Here’s what you should keep in mind if you’re a woman who’s at risk for breast cancer.
First and foremost, you’re better off getting aerobic exercise over anaerobic. In fact, aerobic exercise actually changes the fundamental way your cells function. Then again, according to a new study done using rats as the test subjects, we might be far less likely to develop cancer if we’re otherwise healthy even if we don’t exercise at all.
That could sound counterintuitive. After all, how can you be fit if you don’t exercise? As it turns out, genetics plays a large factor in how much work we need to put in when we go about our daily lives. If you have the right genes, then you’ve got less of a chance of developing cancer even if all you do is sit around playing video games on the couch. In that case, all you need to do is go about your business and let routine activity complemented by a trivial amount of exercise provide all the benefit you could ever need. If you have the wrong genes, though, then you’re more likely to be in need of consistent cardiovascular exercise that will help make it easier for your body to transport oxygen and power your muscles in the process.
We can’t draw any definitive conclusions about the relationship between cancer and fitness in humans from this study on rats, but it’s a start.
The goal of the study wasn’t to determine whether or not exercise reduces the chance of breast cancer, but instead why. The study used two groups of rats, one innately fitter than the other, in order to study the effects of genetics. The offspring of healthier moms were allowed to bandy about without exercising, then shot up with a drug that normally induces breast cancer. At the end of the trial, these rats were still four times less likely to develop tumors than the unhealthier rats.
Anaerobic exercise might leave you reeling, as these workout sessions tend to focus on shorter bouts of strenuous activity that force your body to dig into your muscles to gather much-needed energy since the exercise you’re doing leaves your body at a deficit for oxygen. If you want to experience more of the benefits that exercise can offer, then continuous exercise is probably the way to go. It’s a Pennsylvania marathon, not a sprint.