Did you know that lack of exercise is a risk factor for cancer? Even if you eat a healthy diet, don’t smoke, drink alcohol in moderation, and maintain a healthy body weight, a lack of physical activity plays a role in developing or dying from cancer.
Yes, our genes also influence our risk of cancer. But most of the difference in cancer risk between people is due to factors that are not inherited. Our daily lifestyle choices greatly increase or reduce our lifetime risk of a cancer diagnosis. Regular exercise is a healthy choice that helps to keep us cancer-free.
Specifically, physical activity may reduce the risk of breast, colon, endometrium and prostate cancers. In addition, being active helps to prevent weight gain and obesity, which may in turn reduce the risk of developing cancers linked to excess body weight.
What types of exercise should I do
Regular physical activity of moderate intensity – such as walking briskly – has significant benefits for health. Even better is to mix together light, moderate and vigorous intensity movement throughout the day or week.
- Light intensity activities include walking, light gardening, housework and shopping.
- Moderate intensity activities include walking briskly, dancing, golfing, yoga, heavy yard work, taking the stairs, and leisurely cycling.
- Vigorous intensity activities include jogging or running, circuit weight training, swimming, soccer, tennis and heavy manual labour.
The best way to exercise regularly is to choose activities that you enjoy – perhaps even with company you enjoy. That way, you can maintain your health, fight cancer and have fun all at the same time!
How much exercise should I do?
The shortest answer is that some exercise is better than none – so one goal to set for yourself is daily physical activity of some kind. When it comes to optimal health and cancer prevention, however, there are more specific recommendations that vary by age.
- Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.
- Children and teens: Get at least one hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least three days each week.
What are some simple ways to increase physical activity?
You don’t have to visit a gym or join a sports team to get regular physical activity – though those are both great options. You can also add activity into your regular days and social plans.
Here are some simple suggestions:
- Limit sedentary behaviour such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other screen-based entertainment.
- Park at a distance from work and shopping and take the stairs.
- Commute to work by foot, bicycle or public transportation.
- If you work at a desk, get up and walk around whenever you can.
- Exercise at lunch with your coworkers, family or friends.
- Walk to visit coworkers rather than phoning or sending a message.
- Enjoy active social time with friends like going out dancing or meeting up at a park.
- Plan active vacations that involve walking, hiking, swimming and other activities.
- Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to increase your daily steps.
Exercising regularly for cancer prevention doesn’t have to be complicated, though it may require some planning and reminders. Perhaps the greatest reminder is that 30-50 percent of cancers can be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing evidence-based prevention strategies – one of which is regular exercise.
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre
46 Point Finger Road, Paget
(441) 236 – 1001