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Healthcare: Cancer Care

Exercise and Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer patients who exercise just a few hours every week reduce their risk of death by up to 50 percent compared with inactive women, according to a new study bolstering the case that living healthy can protect against recurrence of breast cancer. This new study was particularly compelling because women who walked at a moderate pace for 3 to 5 hours weekly derived the maximum benefit.*

Even women who walked at average pace for just one hour per week, or the equivalent in other physical activity, reduced their risk of death by 20 percent compared with inactive women. An average pace is defined as walking 2 to 2.9 miles per hour.*

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Other Benefits of Regular Exercise

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Decreases risk of:

  • Being overweight/obese
  • Elevated blood pressure and coronary artery disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
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In this study, overall activity was measured as metabolic equivalent task (MET)

  • < 3 MET hours per week – no effect on risk or recurrence
  • 3 to 8.9 MET hours per week – lowered risk of recurrence 20 percent
  • 9 to 14.9 MET hours per week – lowered risk of recurrence 50 percent
  • 15-23.9 MET hours per week – lowered risk of recurrence 44 percent
  • 24+ MET hours per week – lowered risk of recurrence 40 percent
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*Holmes, M.D., et al. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Journal of American Medical Association, 293 (20); 2479-86: 2005.

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Energy Requirements of Common Daily Activities*

Leisure Activities

METs**

Mild

 

Playing the piano

2.3

Canoeing (leisurely)

2.5

Golf (with cart)

2.5

Walking (2 mph)

2.5

Dancing (ballroom)

2.9

Moderate

 

Walking (3 mph)

3.3

Cycling (leisurely)

3.5

Calisthenics (no weight)

4.0

Golf (no cart)

4.4

Swimming (slow)

4.5

Walking (4 mph)

4.5

Vigorous

 

Chopping wood

4.9

Tennis (doubles)

5.0

Ballroom (fast) or square dancing

5.5

Cycling (moderately)

5.7

Skiing (water or downhill)

6.8

Climbing hills (no load)

6.9

Swimming

7.0

Walking (5 mph)

8.0

Jogging (10-minute mile)

 

10.2

Rope skipping

12.0

Squash

12.1

Activities of Daily Living

 

Lying quietly

1.0

Sitting; light activity

1.5

Walking from house to car or bus

2.5

Loading/unloading car

3.0

Taking out trash

3.0

Walking the dog

3.0

Household tasks, moderate effort

3.5

Vacuuming

3.5

Lifting items continuously

4.0

Raking lawn

4.0

Gardening (no lifting)

4.4

Mowing lawn (power mower)

4.5

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*These activities can often be done at variable intensities, assuming that the intensity is not excessive and that the courses are flat (no hills) unless so specified. Categories are based on experience or tolerance; if an activity is perceived to be more than indicated, it should be judged accordingly.

**MET indicates metabolic equivalent. One MET is the amount of energy used when sitting quietly.

Source: Fletcher et al. Exercise standards for testing and training. Circulation 2001.