Good news: a recent study found that exercise cuts breast cancer risk for women.
Even better news? You can reap the benefits regardless of what kind of exercise you do, no matter how much you weigh or how old you are, and even if you’ve never worked out before.
The factor that does make a difference is how much exercise you do—but even something is better than nothing. Researchers looked at data from studies between 1987 and 2013 and involving more than four million women. They found that women who were the most active (more than an hour a day of vigorous activity) lowered their risk of breast cancer by 12 percent.
But all women who were physically active saw some reduced risk. “This decrease is the same whatever the country, whatever the age, whatever the menopausal status,” Mathieu Boniol, research director at the Strathclyde Institute for Global Public Health in Lyon, France, told NPR. And it didn’t matter if women were active in work, activities of daily living, or sports. “It’s very good news.” Women who were overweight or obese benefited only a little less, with a decreased risk of 10 percent.
And if you think you’re off the hook because you’ve never exercised before, think again, Boniol says. “It’s not something to say, ‘Oh, I’ve never done sports why do that right now?’” Boniol says. “We now have evidence that it could still be beneficial.”