Exercise and Reducing Cancer Risk

Did you know that exercise also plays a strong role in lowering your cancer risk?  Taking part in physical activity is one of the most important things that you can do for your health, according to the most recent government guidelines.

Physical activity and cancer: six research findings you need to know.   

Activity lowers the risk of breast, other cancers.
Overall, studies show regular exercise lowers breast cancer risk by 10-20 percent.

The more activity, the lower the risk.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week (or a combination of these). You can get in the recommended activity levels by just walking on your lunch break for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Choose an activity that suits you.
Being at least moderately active is the key to lowering your risk, regardless of the type of exercise you do.  According to the Harvard School of Public Health, moderate activity means anything that gets you moving three to six times more than when you’re sitting still.  This can include activities such as brisk walking, gardening, and water aerobics.  Vigorous activity gets you moving over six times as much as sitting still.  Jumping rope, running, and bicycling fast are all vigorous activities. However much you do and for how long, research shows that something is better than nothing. Find an activity you like that fits your needs.  If you want more accountability, work one-on-one with a personal trainer.  If you need just a little extra motivation or want your workout to feel more like “fun” than “work,” participate in a group fitness class.  

Exercise is helpful for weight management, and a healthy weight reduces cancer risks.
A healthy diet containing fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods and drinks, plus a relatively low-calorie lifestyle, has shown to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight.  Achieving a healthy weight is important because obesity and overweight increase the risk of 11 different types of cancer.  Exercise, however, is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. When you’re trying to lose weight, it can help you burn more calories. After losing weight, staying active can help you avoid gaining it back. It can also help you avoid the gradual weight gain associated with aging.  If you are unsure of how to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle, meeting with a registered dietitian is a good place to start.

Other ways activity may lower cancer risk.
Research shows that activity protects against cancer independent of weight.  Regular physical activity helps keep insulin and sex hormones such as estrogen at healthy levels. Studies also suggest it decreases chronic inflammation, a factor associated with many cancers, as well as improves immune function and keeps your digestive system healthy.

Being active also helps survivors
The American College of Sports Medicine says that when able, cancer survivors should work towards getting the same amount of exercise the government recommends for the average person. Emerging research suggests that activity can help with daily tasks, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

Learn about the available resources through Carle Health & Fitness Center: