Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: I know I need to get more physically active, but I don’t enjoy exercise programs and quit after a month or so every time. What do you suggest?
A: You’ve hit the nail on the head: physical activity is a key step to lower risk of cancer and to help prevent and control heart disease and diabetes. But it doesn’t have to be “exercise.” Spend a few minutes and write down as many ways you can think of that you could possibly enjoy moving around. Then go through the list and choose options that could work with your schedule. For example, if you’d like to help others, what about signing up with your local animal shelter or humane society to help walk dogs? Or how about helping with a community garden or the landscaping at a local historical site? You might volunteer at a hospital helping patients in wheel chairs get to necessary tests, or help other causes you care about that need some physically active engagement. On the other hand, if some solitude is just the stress-reliever you need, you could work in your own garden, take walks in pretty areas, focusing on enjoying the scenery rather than the goal of “exercise,” or experiment with non-aerobic, contemplative-types of activity such as yoga or tai chi. Is social interaction what you’d like? There are lots of options: you could get a few people who commit to walking certain days each week at a particular time or check your local Y or community center for recreational sport leagues aimed at beginners. What about dance classes? Check local dance studios and community centers for lessons in everything from Latin to line dancing, belly dancing, tap and ballet. Another possibility is to turn some of the time you currently spend driving or commuting to work or errands into “active commuting time” by walking or biking. Regular physical activity is important to health, so forget the “should do it” and try out different ways to do it until you find one (or more!) that you can make part of your regular lifestyle.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International..