Being active is one of the best things you can do to improve overall health Another new year, another resolution, right? “Exercise more” is one of the top five resolutions made in the U.S., but unfortunately many people find they’ve already fallen off track by mid-January. Well, if you haven’t been as active as you’d like so far in 2011, just remember: every day is a new opportunity to resolve to get healthy, and what better resolution to make than doing what you can to reduce your risk of developing cancer. This year, commit to being active. There are so many health benefits associated with physical activity. First and foremost, being active makes us feel good – inside and out! It’s one of the few things you can do to really take control over your health, and lower your risk of breast cancer. Also, for survivors, exercising lowers your chances for a recurrence, increases life expectancy and improves day-to-day well-being. Findings from the Collaborative Women’s Longevity Study showed that breast cancer survivors who got roughly three to nine hours of walking a week had a 35 to 40 percent lower risk of recurrence compared to survivors who were less active. The study followed nearly 4,500 breast cancer survivors for more than five years. Survivors who got roughly one to two hours of brisk walking a week had a 40 percent lower risk of death compared to less active survivors. The bottom line is that activity equal to a 30-minute brisk walk several times a week improved survival. Women who got more activity got more benefit! Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Adding even a little activity to your day will improve your health and protect against breast cancer. How does it help? There are several ways in which physical activity can help protect against breast cancer. Weight: Staying active helps us maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that thinner women and women who gain little or no weight as they age have a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Additionally, thinner breast cancer survivors have a higher life expectancy than heavier survivors. This is because they are less likely to have a recurrence and have a reduced incidence of developing heart disease and/or diabetes. Lowered estrogen levels: Regular exercise may lower estrogen levels in women, which in turn may help prevent breast cancer from developing or spreading. Lowered insulin levels: Exercising may also lower your insulin levels. Some studies have shown a correlation between high insulin levels in postmenopausal women and higher risk of developing or dying from breast cancer. How to get started The good news is you don’t have to run marathons or spend hours a day in the gym to reap the benefits that physical activity offers. According to the National Cancer Institute, simply taking a 30 minute walk five times a week can lower your breast cancer risk by as much as 15 percent. So, grab a friend, and get moving! Improving your health and lowering your breast cancer risk is a simple resolution that can do so much good.