Just five hours a week of moderate exercise could help ward off a cancer diagnosis. A study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, found strong evidence correlating physical activity to lower rates of cancer and other chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Using self-reported data from 600,000 U.S. adults, the observational study estimates more than 46,000 cancer cases could be avoided each year through regular physical activity. The study found lower rates of common cancers such as stomach, breast and colon in Americans 30 years or older who exercised 300 minutes, or five hours each week.
“Incorporating regular physical activity into your everyday lifestyle can offer immediate and lasting benefits to your overall health,” says Lori Gledhill, M.D. with Greenbrier Valley Primary Care. “Exercise as simple as brisk walking, biking or even cleaning the house can help improve your health and decrease the chances of developing a chronic condition like cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute also reports strong evidence linking high levels of physical activity to lower risk of cancers thanks to the biological effects it has on the body. Exercise can help improve the immune system and help prevent obesity and high blood levels of insulin which are all risk factors for cancer.
Beyond exercise, there are other lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer. Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke to reduce the chance of developing lung or throat cancer. Consider limiting alcohol to one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men to avoid cancers like liver and kidney. Reduce the risk of skin cancer by limiting exposure to ultraviolet rays. When outside, wear sunscreen and cover any exposed skin with clothing, hats and sunglasses.
“Though our busy lifestyles make it difficult to find the time to exercise regularly, it is well worth the effort,” says Gledhill. “You can even break up your exercise into shorter intervals as tolerated to achieve five hours of physical activity each week.”
To find a physician or learn how to incorporate more physical activity into your lifestyle, visit gvmedicalgroup.com or call 304-645-3207.
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