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3 Best exercises to beat breast cancer

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Get fit to fight breast cancer

Love it or hate it, you know exercise is good for you. It keeps your heart pumping and muscles toned, brings oxygen to your brain and even helps to keep your immune system fine-tuned. If that's not enough, studies also show it may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. That's right: Physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than do inactive women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Here are the three best exercises you should be doing to protect yourself from getting breast cancer.

Woman doing yoga

Exercise is good for all women

And don't bother looking for an age loophole that excludes you from incorporating exercise into your day. Premenopausal, postmenopausal, older, younger — and especially adolescent girls — all experience reduced risk of breast cancer with exercise. Scientists are not clear on how it all works, but it likely relates to a combination of hormonal, weight-control and blood sugar issues. Isn't 30 to 60 minutes a day (the recommended amount) of exercise worth it? Clearly. So lace up your kicks, call a girlfriend or two and get fit to fight breast cancer.

1Walk your way to breast health

It may be the easiest exercise for beginners, but it doesn't mean you can shop for shoes at the mall and, like magic, you'll have thighs like Victoria Secret models. If you can walk five miles but it takes you five hours to do it, you won't see changes.

A pedometer — a gizmo that tracks the number of steps you take — helps you set goals and track progress. Strive for 10,000 steps a day. Yes, it's a lot, but you want results, right? Wear a pedometer for a week to see what days you have the most number of steps. Then try to repeat the activities of that day and add another 500 steps the following week. Keep it up until you reach 10,000 steps a day.

If you're already fit, add a few changes to kick up the intensity. The easiest way to up the ante is to simply walk faster, says Therese Iknoian, MS, author of Fitness Walking. You may even want to try race walking, which uses more muscles and therefore burns more calories. Brisk walking at four miles an hour burns 334 calories and strolling at three miles per hour burns 221 calories, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

2Yoga to stress less about breast cancer

Exercise meets stress reduction in yoga class, so you get the best of both worlds. If you've never taken a class, experiment with a few different styles until you find one you like. Beginners may want to get familiar with hatha or vinyasa before progressing into power yoga or Bikram (hot yoga).

3Circuit weight training trumps breast cancer

Weight training combined with cardiovascular fitness (which you get from moving rapidly from one exercise to the next), burns more fat than either one alone through an after-burner effect called EPOC (excess post-oxygen consumption). This means you keep burning calories for hours after you've stopped exercising. What's better than that?

Pick one or mix them up -- keep moving to stay healthy!

More about breast cancer awareness

Style and beauty finds that support breast cancer
How to prepare for breast cancer surgery
10 Awesome retailers that support breast cancer awareness

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