While there is no one lifestyle adjustment that can improve the outcome in breast cancer patients, research shows that exercise is an important component of successful recovery.

Regular exercise has been linked to a reduced risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to living a more sedentary lifestyle, according to a research review co-authored by Dr. Ellen Warner from Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto and colleague Julie Hamer. However, less than 13 percent of women who have breast cancer are meeting their ideal amount of weekly physical activity.

“Exercise has the greatest benefit on lowering risk of recurrence and has many other secondary benefits like helping with weight management (which itself lowers the risk of recurrence) and fewer side effects from chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy,” Warner told Reuters Health.

The review concluded that weight gain during or post-breast cancer treatment increases the rate of recurrence and decreases the rate of survival. So while exercise won’t cure someone or replace conventional treatments, it has a number of benefits that are worth the effort.