Many Americans face barriers to physical activity, according to researchers, including lack of time due to long hours in low-wage jobs; the cost of gym memberships or personal equipment; lack of access to a safe exercise setting; and childcare costs. Such barriers are more common among certain groups of people, including Black Americans and those with low incomes, according to study leader Adair Minihan, of the American Cancer Society, and colleagues. However, new research suggests that finding time to squeeze exercise weekly can be extremely beneficial.
Just a few hours a week of moderate exercise may reduce your risk of cancer, a new study suggests. If Americans got the recommended five hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, more than 46,000 cancer cases could be prevented in the United States each year, according to the report.
The study authors said that 3% of all cancer cases in U.S. adults aged 30 and older from 2013 to 2016 were attributable to inactivity. More inactivity-related cancer cases occurred in women (almost 33,000) than in men (nearly 14,300) each year.
How does exercise reduce the risk of cancer?
There are many ways exercise can reduce the risk of cancer. The following are most notable:
- Bowel cancer: exercise can help waste pass through more quickly, reducing contact with cancer-causing agents.
- Breast cancer: high activity levels may lower the level of oestrogen in the body.
- Tumor growth: active bodies produce less insulin and insulin-like growth factors that speed tumor growth.
Additionally, exercise can reduce your risk of developing the following cancers:
- Breast cancer
- Endometrial cancers
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Myeloid leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Blood cancer
- Cancers of the head and neck, rectum, and lung (in current and former smokers)
How can you be more active every day?
For moderate exercise, all you need is
30 minutes to an hour of physical activity a day that will slightly increase your breathing and heart rate.
If you aren’t a fan of the gym, the following can easily provide you the daily physical activity you are looking for:
- bushwalking, surfing or cycling
- Walking to public transport, or walking or cycling to your destination
- sports such as soccer, netball and tennis
- salsa or ballroom dancing
- strength training like pilates and yoga
- brisk walking or jogging
- skipping rope or ball games
Another way moderate exercise can be added to your daily routine is by incorporating it into routines you may already be accustomed to doing, which is great if you are low on time.
The following are good examples of that:
- Whenever possible, try walking instead of driving. For example, try walking to shops or during your lunch breaks.
- Walk or cycle to work, use the stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator.
- Get off the train or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- Do vigorous housework like vacuuming or mowing the lawn.
- Go and talk to colleagues instead of sending an email.
Another good way to ensure you are getting your target goal of 10,000 daily steps is to invest in a pedometer, which will count the number of steps you take.
Remember, you don’t have to overdo it when it comes to exercise. You can still see results by gradually adding activities to your day-to-day routine. If you need help determining which forms of exercise may be best for you, consult with your doctor or a personal trainer.