Posted on April 9, 2019

Written By: Megan DeLuca Megan DeLuca, MEd, CPT
PTS Fitness Blogger

Exercise is one of the most important actions you can take to help guard against many types of cancer. Up to one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, including two of the most common cancers in the United States, breast and colon cancer.

Many people exercise to prevent heart disease, but exercise can also play a key role in preventing cancer. Many cancers are caused by lifestyle factors—not genes.

Exercise lowers your cancer risk in several ways:

  • Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese raises your risk for several cancers.
  • Exercise helps your body regulate hormone levels. Increased levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk.
  • Exercise speeds digestion, which may reduce the time that potentially harmful substances are in the colon.

Sit less. Extended periods of sitting increase your cancer risk, even if you exercise regularly. Sitting too much also increases your risk of obesity, which leads to cancer and other chronic diseases. Try to get up and move for at least five minutes every hour that you are awake.

Get active. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes vigorous exercise each week. It’s best to do a combination of both, and you don’t have to do it all at one time. You can split up your activity into short intervals of as little as 10 minutes.

During moderate exercise, you should be able to talk, but not sing. Examples of moderate activities include walking, yoga and mowing the lawn.

During vigorous activity, you can say a few words, but you can’t hold a conversation. Examples of vigorous activity include running or jogging, fast bicycling and swimming.

Build strength. Perform muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Strength training helps you maintain a healthy weight by building muscle, which boosts your metabolism. Strength training, also called resistance training, should be done in addition to moderate and vigorous exercise.

Get kids moving. Kids need exercise just like adults do. By encouraging your children to exercise every day, you help build good habits that will affect their health for a lifetime.