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Exercise Benefits You Inside and Out

Focused on Health - February 2010

By Rachel Winters

Being active for at least 30 minutes every day is proven to protect against breast, endometrial and colon cancers, according tofamily exercising the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). If you can increase to 60 minutes of exercise a day – great.

And, the news gets even better. You don’t need to go to a gym or do sprints every day to get your 30 to 60 minutes in. 

M. D. Anderson fitness experts have designed a plan based on studies done by the AICR that will fit your lifestyle and still prevent cancer.

“Doing everyday activities can count as exercise, but only if they are done at a moderate intensity.  You should be working enough to raise your heart rate and increase your breathing,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of behavioral science at M. D. Anderson.

“You should be able to talk while exercising, but not sing,” Basen-Engquist says. “Break-up your 30 minutes into three 10-minute workouts if you like.”

Physical activity can protect against cancer because it lowers body fat, lowers hormone levels that raise breast and endometrial cancer risks, and keeps the digestive system working well to reduce colon cancer risks.

Limit the amount of time that you sit around or watch television to make room in your life for physical activity.

Cardio isn’t the only thing that countsguy on bike
Alternate everyday activities that increase your heart rate with cardio and strength training workouts. The AICR recommends doing cardio workouts every day and strength training (like weight lifting) three times a week.

Lifting weights is exercise if you are huffing and puffing. It is a great compliment to your cadio workout! If you don’t have weights, try lifting water jugs or canned goods instead.

“Making your entire body strong by lifting weights is a great complement to doing cardio,” Basen-Engquist says. “Be sure to work the core muscle groups throughout your body each week.”

Strength training can prevent muscle loss, build bone density and increase the rate that your body burns calories to keep you at a healthy weight.

Always take the time to stretch the muscles you are exercising. Stretching your legs, arms and back will help with soreness. It also will help prevent muscle tears and injuries.

Set yourself up for successolder woman exercise
“Set goals that are measurable and achievable,” Basen-Engquist says. “Reward yourself  when you meet your goal, like go to a movie, buy yourself a non-fat latte or even take a short vacation.”

Another key part of achieving success is starting slow. If you haven’t worked out in a while or are new to exercise, gradually work up to exercising for 30 minutes. Try doing your exercise in 10-minute bouts throughout the day.  Studies suggest this approach may be as good as 30 continuous minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

It is normal to be sore at first, but the soreness shouldn’t last more than a day or so.

After you’ve made it to 30 minutes, increase your exercise time to 60 minutes a day or rev up the intensity of your 30-minute workout.

Our tailored exercise plan and videos include options for those already at a high level of fitness, as well as options for the beginner. Exercise is most effective if done properly, so check out the proper techniques.

Ready, set, go!

Seven-day exercise plan

Monday – Cardio & Upper-Body Weight Training
Tuesday – Circuit Training
Wednesday – Lower-Body Strength Training
Thursday – Cardio
Friday – Cardio & Back/Stomach Exercise
Weekend – Stay Active 

Related Links:

Exercise and Health (M. D. Anderson)
Guidelines for Cancer Prevention (American Institute for Cancer Research)

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center