We all understand the struggle of being consistent in the gym. It’s a lifestyle that can be hard to get accustomed to, but it’s all about the preparation. Planning a time, setting a reminder, starting small and laying out your gear are all ways to prepare. We know that many people exercise to lose weight or to have more energy, but did you know that exercise might help you avoid cancer?
Exercise is important when it comes to lowering your risk for cancer. Exercise helps control weight, reduce sex hormones or insulin, strengthens your immune system, and it can boost your quality of life during cancer treatment. Recently, the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have highlighted the potential benefits of exercise in decreasing the risk of developing specific types of cancer. A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine found that physical activity decreased the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancers, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer and myeloid leukemia. “Leisure time physical activity” was also strongly associated with lower risk of other cancers such as multiple myeloma (a blood cancer), as well as cancers of the head, neck, rectum, bladder and lung.
Although many factors determine an individual’s risk of cancer, some, such as genetics, are beyond our control. Others, like smoking, vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), diet, and exercise, can be modified. I must stress that exercise in and of itself will not prevent cancer, but there is mounting evidence that exercise, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can not only decrease your risk of getting cancer, but it can also improve outcomes for patients with cancer. Plus, it can be fun and a terrific way to be social and make friends.
Colon cancer is one of the most widely studied cancers in relation to exercise. A study showed that the most active individuals had a 24% lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active. Another study demonstrated that the risk of cancer was decreased by 16% for individuals that maintained their physical health. Similarly, patients with colorectal cancer who continue to exercise had a 31% lower risk of death than those who did not.
Breast cancerstudies indicate that physically active women have shown a lower risk of developing cancer than inactive women. After 31 prospective studies, the average breast cancer risk reduction associated with exercise was 12%. Women who walked 3 to 5 hours a week at an average pace after a breast cancer diagnosis exhibited an approximately 40% to 50% lower risk of recurrence and death. Women who engage in walking at an average pace of 2 mph, for one hour per week lowered their risk 35% to 49%.
Prostate cancer may also be associated with improved outcomes in patients who exercise, although the data is less clear. In one study, men with non-metastatic prostate cancer who engaged in high intensity activity for at least 3 hours a week had a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer than those who only exercised for 1 hour per week.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
You do not need to be a marathon runner to be considered physically active. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity activity each week. Walking at just 3mph is considered moderate intensity – that’s easy! You can get in your recommended activity by taking a 30-minute walk on your lunch break, 5 days a week. Click here to learn more about our personal fitness training program that meets your specific needs!
Exercise is important when it comes to lowering your risk of cancer. Click here to learn more about our Cancer Care.