Physical activity is an important part of cancer prevention.
Physical activity describes most of your movements. It includes activities like cleaning the house, shopping for groceries, working in the yard and washing the car, which use your large skeletal muscles.
“Some people often think that if they can’t get a full exercise session in, it’s not worth doing at all. But that simply isn’t true,” says Allica Austin, a senior exercise physiologist in the Cancer Prevention Center. “There are many benefits to exercise, but there are many benefits to physical activity as well.”
Staying active can help you maintain a healthy weight. And maintaining a healthy weight can help when it comes to cancer prevention. Obesity is linked to several types of cancer including colorectal, breast, uterine and thyroid cancers.
To reap the benefits of physical activity and lower your cancer risk, you should aim for two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity each week.
Here are three benefits of physical activity:
Activity can lead to exercise
“We see this with our patients all the time,” Austin says. “Once someone sees that taking a short walk isn’t as hard as they thought, they’re eager to add in more.”
Austin suggests starting with small, achievable goals and building on them.
Some people often think that if they can’t get a full exercise session in, it’s not worth doing at all. But that simply isn’t true.
Even some activity is better than no activity.
Research shows that for every hour of television you watch after age 25, your life expectancy goes down almost by 22 minutes. But taking breaks to get active by standing or walking can make a big difference. Short spurts of activity can get your heart pumping and improve your health.
Even if you exercise regularly, it’s still easy to spend most of your day at work or your leisure time sitting. And that can put you at an increased risk for colorectal, ovarian anduterine cancers, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Austin recommends getting creative with your leisure time. Instead of watching television, go for a walk or a bike ride with friends.
Physical activity keeps you feeling younger.
Not only does activity keep you trim and help lower your cancer risk, but it can reverse some of the effects of aging as well. Studies show that staying active helps regulate the cardiovascular system.
“Think of it as training your body,” Austin says. “Consider if you’re training your body to be sedentary or if you’re training your body to be active.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.