Keeping Cancer at Bay With Exercise

By Dr. Sandeep Nayak

According to independent estimates, up to one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, including two of the most common cancers — breast and colon cancer. Many people exercise to prevent heart disease, but exercise can also play a key role in preventing cancer.

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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. Most cancers are caused by lifestyle factors—not genes.

A good goal is to exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. To get the most benefit, though, aim for about an hour a day. Moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking may be sufficient, although there is more benefit with increased intensity.

It’s easier than you think! A half hour of physical activity daily such as walking, slow swimming, leisurely bike riding or golfing without a cart will get you started. Here are some other ways to be more active:

• Use stairs rather than an elevator

• Walk or bike to your destination, and walk around the block after dinner

• Exercise at lunch with your family or friends

• Go dancing

• Use a stationary bike or do sit-ups, leg lifts and push-ups while watching TV

• When the weather is too poor to be outside, grab a partner and “walk the mall.”

• Vary your type of exercise so you won’t get bored or think it’s a chore.

Often people view exercise narrowly as a way to lose weight or to look better. These incentives can be effective, but exercise is really about a person taking charge of his or her health, preventing chronic diseases like cancer, and living longer.

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