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WCRF/AICR
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AICR HealthTalk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: How do people fit in the 30 minutes of activity every day recommended for lower cancer risk? I don’t have an extra 30 minutes in my day!

exercise styles

A: Great news: You don’t have to get all 30 minutes of activity at one time to achieve health benefits! Many people find that shorter blocks of activity scattered throughout normal daily activities is a workable way to build a more active lifestyle. Blocks of at least ten minutes of “moderate” activity that raises your heart rate or breathing slightly is what research has linked to better health. Strategies include getting off public transportation one stop early, taking a short walk around the block right before breakfast or for a mid-afternoon break at work, and walking around a parking area or playing field while waiting for children or grandchildren you’re picking up. If you keep walking shoes handy, you’ll be ready to take advantage of those 10- or 15- minute openings between one thing and the next on your busy day’s “to do list.”  You can also look for things that you can do just as well – and probably more enjoyably – while walking as while sitting. For example, if you try to “check in” via phone or in person with family members or colleagues, perhaps there’s a place you could do that while walking.

These shorter blocks of activity may not provide as much relaxation or cardiovascular fitness benefit as 30 minutes at a time, so I encourage you to work at creating occasional opportunities for some longer activity, too. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the power of a few blocks of 10 minutes at a moderate pace to improve hormone levels and chronic disease risk factors and give you energizing, stress-reducing breaks amidst busy days. If you’ve been sedentary, start with blocks of five or ten minutes of moderate activity and build up. Even 60 minutes a week is better than none. No matter your age, avoid physical inactivity.

Thirty minutes of physical activity a day can be difficult for some, but with these 3-Minute Office Workouts, you could be done before you even get home!


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 over $105 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. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 07/20/2015

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