Cancer Control: Physical Actvity
As I mentioned in this post here, outside of smoking and tobacco use, the most important controllable cancer risk factors are body weight, diet, and physical activity. In my last post I focused on diet. This week we’re going to talk about physical activity and exercise.
Physical activity and exercise is critical when it comes to maintaining your ideal weight. This is important in the quest to control cancer as 1/3 of all cancer deaths in the United States every year are linked to diet and exercise according to the American Cancer Society. This includes being overweight or obese.
In addition to incorporating healthy eating habits described in my Cancer Prevention Diet post, there is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise reduces the risk of certain types of cancers. This of course is in addition to lowering your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other common health concerns. Click Here to read about specific studies demonstrating exercise’s benefits to reducing colon, breast, endometrial, lung and prostate cancer.
First off, let’s define physical activity. The American Cancer Society has two categories of activity, Usual and Intentional.
Usual activities are those that we do as part of our regular daily routine. These would include walking, climbing stairs, grooming, cooking and so on. These activities are not very intensive and are usually only done for a brief period of time.
Intentional activities are often activities we plan such as going for a bike ride, attending an exercise class, completing a workout or going for a run. We do these activities in addition to our usual activities.
The American Cancer Society groups these activities based on their level of intensity into Light, Moderate or Vigorous. General housework, shopping and cooking would be examples of Light Intensity activities. Here’s an illustration from their website showing examples of Moderate and Vigorous activities.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has a great resource listing many activities that fall into Moderate and Vigorous intensities to help you identify activities you enjoy to help reach your goal of more exercise. Click Here for their list.
Now that we have an understanding of physical activity, let’s discuss just how much you need to reap the benefits of Cancer Control.
Both the American Cancer Society and the CDC’s guidance found on the National Cancer Institute’s site recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 60-75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. The CDC recommends this to be split into 30 minutes, 5 days a week for the moderate activity or at least 20 minutes, 3 days a week for the vigorous activities.
A lot of people may not be engaging in physical activity despite knowing the health benefits. There are a number of reasons this occurs. I’ve created the following worksheet to help you work through these challenges so you can once and for all remove any barrier keeping you from starting and/or sticking to an exercise routine.