Physical Activity Matters for Cancer Prevention

Published on November 2, 2016

Today, you can begin adding more cancer prevention to your life by boosting your physical activity with a few more minutes of walking or taking a few more steps. Start now to build in more activities, day-by-day and week-by-week, to help lower your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.

What We Know about Activity and Cancer
AICR reports find strong evidence that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily reduces risk for three cancers: colon, endometrial and postmenopausal breast. Moving more may help lower risk for these cancers by:
•    Regulating blood levels of insulin, estrogen and related hormones that can fuel cancer growth
•    Decreasing chronic inflammation, which links to cancer growth
•    Reducing excess body fat -- a major risk factor for many cancers
•    Speeding up digestion, reducing the time gut cells are exposed to potential cancer-causing substances

Tips to get active:
•    Schedule activity: Plan walks and other activities just like you would eating, sleeping, and meetings.
•    Make every minute and step count: Sneak in a walk or an activity anytime you have a free moment: before work, at break time or waiting for someone.
•    Add up minutes: Wear a watch with a timer or use the timer on your phone. Start the timer each time you walk or are active during the day.
        OR
•    Count steps: Wear your pedometer or fitness tracker all day and note your step counts. Reliable, inexpensive pedometers and fitness trackers are available in sporting goods stores.


Physical Activity and Preventing Cancer

Set your initial goal for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day. Then boost cancer protection by aiming for 60 minutes daily.

Click on the image to share the infographic on physical activity and cancer.



What We Know about Inactivity and Cancer
Another way to think about activity is to work toward sitting less. Spending too much time being inactive – called sedentary time – appears to affect hormones and other factors associated with cancer risk, according to emerging evidence. Even if you are active, research suggests you are not protected against the risks associated with prolonged sitting. Breaking up sitting time by getting up and moving around every 30-60 minutes may be helpful.

Ideas to break up your sitting:
•    Take stairs or walk up escalators. Start by climbing as many flights as you can before riding elevators or escalators
•    Take mini-activity breaks when watching television or using the computer for 1, 2, 5 or 10 minutes
•    Set the timer on your computer, phone or watch to alert you hourly. Stand up, stretch and shake out your arms and legs!

These keys to success will help you get started and keep it up:
1.    Start where you are - go at you own pace
2.    Do more than you’re doing now - gradually add more
3.    Make it fun – do activities you’ve enjoyed in the past, and try new ones 

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