Ask the cancer genetics team: reducing cancer risk through exercise


Q: Will exercise help to decrease my cancer risk?

A: Studies have shown that individuals who are more physically active and maintain a healthy weight may be less likely to develop certain forms of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, regular exercise can improve your overall health in many ways, including:

  • Increasing strength in bones, muscles, and joints
  • Improving "good cholesterol"
  • Strengthening immunity
  • Reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Promoting overall physical and mental well-being

You may also find that you sleep better at night and are more focused and relaxed during the day, once you begin a regular exercise program.

Q: What type of exercise should I do and how long should I exercise?

A: Almost any form of physical activity is good for you. You might want to consider an activity that you’ve always been interested in, such as a dance or yoga class, or a walking or running club. Walking is a safe and effective way to begin an exercise program and doesn’t require any special equipment, except a good pair of walking shoes.

While exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day is good for you, the American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activities per week, such as moderate/brisk walking, bicycling, swimming or low-impact dancing; or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week, such as jogging, roller-skating or tennis.

Try to limit sedentary behavior, such as sitting, lying down, or watching too much television. If you sit at a desk for a large part of the workday, be sure to take mini-breaks: walk to your co-worker’s desk rather than emailing to schedule a meeting, take the stairs rather than the elevator, or take a quick walk at lunch, all of which are rejuvenating to the body and mind.

Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


 
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