The mental and physical benefits of regular exercise are almost too numerous to count. From weight loss to stress reduction, from stronger bones to improved metabolism function, from greater energy to longer life expectancy, it’s clear that investing just 30 minutes a day in exercise can pay tremendous dividends for years to come.
Another compelling reason to make exercise a priority is that doing so can help prevent many types of common cancers, including breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, prostate, lung, and uterine cancer.
What the research says
Medical and scientific journals are filled with detailed studies showing a positive correlation between physical activity and reduced cancer risk. For example, a paper published in the October 2013 edition of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention reported that women who exercised regularly were, on average, 25% less likely to get breast cancer than inactive women. Meanwhile, other studies indicate that active men and women were anywhere from 30 to 40% less likely to develop colon cancer than their sedentary counterparts, and active women could expect their risk of uterine cancer to dip by as much as 46%. Similar relationships between exercise and prevention have been established for many other types of cancer as well.
What you should do
Before beginning any new exercise program, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor and get a complete physical first. Once you receive medical clearance, you should start slowly and work your way up to several exercise days per week. Low-impact activities, such as walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical, will help reduce your risk of overuse injuries in the early stages of your program. As you develop strength, endurance, and overall fitness, you can add more strenuous activities, like jogging, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and/or weightlifting to your regimen.
Regular exercise should be as big a part of your cancer prevention arsenal as eating healthy foods, filtering your tap water, refraining from tobacco use, and being liberal with sunscreen. Begin your new lifestyle now so you can reap the benefits sooner rather than later.