On the Run Blog: Doing ‘curls for the girls’

Editor’s Note: To mark a milestone birthday, WTOP’s Paula Wolfson has signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon. She will be sharing her journey along the way in a series of blog posts.

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Just about every time I meet up with “Vince the Trainer,” he puts 10, 12 or 15 pound weights in my hands and says, “curls for the girls!”

He is, of course, talking about the benefits resistance training has on, how shall we say, my chest muscles.

But with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s important to remember that “curls for the girls” can and should be taken in a broader context.

Research shows regular exercise, including but not limited to those bicep curls, can reduce the risk of breast cancer during the reproductive and postmenopausal years.

And we’re not talking a slight dip here. How about a potential 30 percent reduction in risk?

Well, sign me up!

Turns out the exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, but it does need to be consistent.

Some researchers say 10 to 19 hours a week are needed for the full benefit, but others say you can get by with less if you generally stay active.

Personal trainer Dorelle Laffal says half an hour to an hour a day is a great way to start. And, while she’s a big proponent of weight training (more on that later), she says it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do. Walking, running, swimming, even housework — think power vacuuming — are all good.

And when Laffal talks about protecting “the girls,” she speaks with great authority.

A breast cancer survivor and bodybuilder, Laffal won a Maryland state title after her second mastectomy in 2003.

Now Laffal works with breast cancer patients at Full Circle Fitness in Silver Spring. She’s not surprised to learn exercise can dramatically reduce a woman’s breast cancer risk.

“If you are healthy, your body works better, your immune system is better, your odds are much better if you are taking care of yourself,” she says.

So I’m doing much more than logging miles while preparing for my first Marine Corps Marathon (now less than a month away!) when I lace up my shoes for a training run. I’m also investing in my own health.

And the pink trim on those shoes is a big reminder — I’m also running for “the girls.”

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