As if the list of reasons to exercise weren't already long enough.  Now, there's another compelling reason to hit the track, the treadmill, or the trail.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports on an important study linking improved breast cancer statistics and exercise.  "Women who obtained about 4 hours or more of weekly moderate-intensity recreational activity over their lifetime had a 44% lower risk of death from breast cancer and 34% reduced risk for recurrence, progression, or new primary breast cancer. These findings suggest "being physically active before a breast cancer diagnosis can improve survival after breast cancer." says,  "It's not clear why exercise reduces risks for breast cancer but one reason might be that exercise can lower the amount of estrogen in your body. Estrogen, a hormone, can promote the growth of some breast cancers.

Other research on exercise and breast cancer found exercise also helps boost the immune system, limit weight gain from chemotherapy, eases treatment side effects, increases self-esteem and helps reduce depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Studies say exercise intensity needs to be moderate to vigorous to garner full benefits. explains. "Exercising between three and nine MET (metabolic equivalent task) hours a week was better than exercising less than three. Women who exercised 9 to 15 MET hours a week did the best. (That's about three to five hours of walking at a moderate pace.)

The researchers gave each activity a MET (metabolic equivalent task) score. The MET score showed how much energy was used for each hour of activity. For example, walking at an average pace has a MET score of 3, and running has a MET score of 12. The researchers calculated total MET hours per week for each woman's activities. For example, if a woman walked at an average pace for 4 hours a week, she had 12 MET hours (4 hours x walking MET score of 3).

How do you work four hours of exercise into your week?

  • Make it a priority and put it on your schedule. It's as important to your health as getting your mammogram and teeth cleaned. If you exercise 4 hours per week, that's only 40 minutes per day, six days per week. That's less than one average television show.
  • Choose sports and exercise activities you'll enjoy. If walking on the treadmill at the gym makes your mind go numb, switch to walking in the park, running in your neighborhood or hiking local trails. Play tennis, go swimming or hop on your bike.
  • Break it up throughout your day. Studies show small increments can be as effective as longer blocks of exercise.
  • Be creative. Walk on your lunch hour. Get up half an hour early. Plan your weekends around sports. Leave non-essential chores undone in order to make time for your health.