Did you know 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives? While the odds of survival are better than they’ve ever been, breast cancer still carries with it a hefty toll, indelibly marking the lives of those who are diagnosed and their families.

Fortunately, we’re fighting back and winning!  Since the early 70’s, the five-year survival rate has improved from 52% to 82%. In Canada, one of the biggest breast cancer awareness and fund raising programs is the Run for the Cure, that raises money for awareness and promotes physical fitness, which, studies show, can significantly improve the outcome of those fighting breast cancer.

The good news is that you don’t have to train like an Olympian to get the full benefits of staying fit. Just one hour a week significantly improved their odds of recovery compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. Bu we know moms are notorious for not taking the time to exercise, especially when they have young children. Don’t let that be a reason to forego taking care of yourself. If you like getting out for a walk or jog, plop the little one in a jogging stroller and get some serious pavement under your feet. Here are five more things you can do to stay fit during the winder months.

DO SOMETHING YOU LIKE!  Nobody, and I mean nobody can maintain an exercise routine that they don’t enjoy. If running isn’t your thing, maybe swimming, tennis, yoga or aerobics classes are more your style. If you enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t even notice the fact that you’re getting a good workout in as well.

FIND A PARTNER: Your chances of staying with an exercise program increase dramatically when you have someone to exercise with. On your own it might be tempting to blow off your routine if you’re feeling tired or busy, but if you know your friend is counting on you to be there with them at step class, you’re more likely to show up. An exercise partner or partners can help motivate and support you.  The other great outcome is that the bonds of friendship are strengthened when you’re facing a difficult task together with someone you enjoy spending time with.

GO SLOW! Remember studies show significant improvement from walking as little as one hour per week. You don’t have to turn yourself into a puddle of sweat to get the benefits of physical fitness. Go at your own pace and finish your workout feeling like you could do more. This is a much more pleasant way to exercise than running laps until you can’t stand up anymore and the health benefits are pretty much the same.

ADD SOME VARIETY: Any fitness routine can get stale if you do the same thing all the time. If you usually swim laps in the pool, why not try a fitness class or spin class once in a while? Mix it up from time to time, you’ll not only feel mentally refreshed, but you might just build some muscles that don’t normally get much work.

DON’T LET A BAD DAY OR WEEK DERAIL YOUR EXERCISE SCHEDULE:  Let’s face it, there will be some days where life will happen and you’ll end up missing your daily exercise. That’s ok. The problem comes when you miss a couple of days, feel like you can’t do it and decide to give up altogether If you miss a day, just get back on the proverbial horse and try again the next day. An occasional missed day of your exercise routine won’t hurt your fitness and the extra rest might even do you some good. Missing several days or weeks in a row, though, will reduce the effectiveness of your program.

Staying healthy and fit is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family. It improves your mood, maintains your health and gives you more years to spend with those you love.

Jacquie Cattanach is an avid runner who is driven to challenge herself and break new boundaries in her workouts. Jacquie loves writing about anything to do with running and fitness on her blog – Online Running Gear where she reviews products for runners of all ability.  Jacquie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, British Columbia with her husband and daughter.