When I first heard this statistic, I have to admit I was a little stunned. You mean we could eliminate approximately 190,000 cancer deaths a year by eating better, moving and maintaining a healthy weight? (Not to mention improving overall health and diminishing the incidence of numerous other health problems such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, gall stones and osteoarthritis??)
Well, the answer is YES. Poor lifestyle habits can increase the risk of breast, colon, uterus, esophagus, pancreas, thyroid gall bladder and kidney cancer. Research also supports that physical activity after a diagnosis of cancer may improve quality of life and reduce fatigue.
You don’t have to be an ultra-athlete or health fanatic to reap these benefits. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. What’s moderate or vigorous exercise? Moderate exercise can include walking, leisure bicycling, mowing the lawn, gardening, baseball or golfing. Vigorous exercise includes activities such as running, swimming, jumping rope or heavy manual labor like digging.
In addition to decreasing your risk of cancer, regular physical exercise has the following benefits:
- Relieves stress
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Reducing anxiety
- Increasing self-esteem
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends the following tips:
- ADD a total of 30 minutes of physical activity to your day
- SUBTRACT more and more TV time from your week
- REPLACE your usual moderate activity with more vigorous activity twice a week
You’re never too old to start exercising, and numerous studies support that physical activity can improve the health of older adults who are frail. A recent article in a Michigan newspaper told the story of a 72 year old woman from Gregory, Michigan who lost 145 pounds over a 26-month period. Once barely able to climb a flight of stairs, she is now a triathlete.
What an inspiration! So let’s get moving!
National Cancer Institute: Obesity and Cancer Risk
National Cancer Institute: Physical Activity and Cancer
American Cancer Society: Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention
Newspaper story: Gregory woman, 72, proves health is timeless (PDF)
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