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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Physically Fit Women Less Likely to Die from Breast Cancer

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS –  A new study of more than 14,000 women links physical fitness and breast cancer mortality, revealing an inverse association between aerobic fitness and likelihood of death from the disease. The results are published in the April issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Steven Blair, P.E.D., FACSM, and his research team studied women from 20 to 83 years of age who had no previous history of breast cancer. The study participants received an initial medical examination that included a maximal exercise test on a treadmill between 1973 and 2001, and were monitored for breast cancer mortality through 2003.

Blair’s findings revealed that women with moderate or high aerobic fitness were much less likely to die from breast cancer when compared to low-fitness women. Women in the study’s lowest fitness category were nearly three times more likely to die from breast cancer than women in the highest fitness group.

Blair says women who do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, like walking, will escape the low-fitness category. This activity can be accumulated in 10-minute bouts. This level of exercise meets the federal “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” recommendations and can be easily achieved in 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. One also can achieve this dose of exercise by accumulating 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity, such as jogging.

To develop the highest fitness category in this study, Blair says, women should aim for the “high activity” level recommended by federal guidelines, which includes 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking, over the course of the week, which is equivalent to 150 minutes per week of more vigorous activity, such as jogging or taking an aerobics class.

“We think this is the first study to evaluate the association of objectively measured fitness and risk of dying from breast cancer,” said Blair. “The results suggest a stronger protective effect than has been seen in most studies on self-reported physical activity and breast cancer, probably because the objective laboratory test of fitness is more accurate than self-reports of activity. With more than 40,000 women dying each year from this disease, finding a strong association between fitness, which can be improved by the relatively inexpensive lifestyle intervention of regular physical activity, and lowered chance of mortality is exciting.”

In addition, the study found women with high aerobic fitness had lower body mass index, better cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and fewer chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study’s findings correlate with the message of ACSM’s Exercise is Medicine™ program, which calls for physical activity to be a standard part of health care and preventive treatment.


NOTE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 41, No. 4, pages 742-748) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 127 or 133. Visit ACSM online at

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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