By Traci Cole McCormick, M.D., radiation oncologist at Alliance Cancer Care
30 minutes a day.
3 or 4 days a week.
That is all it takes to drastically reduce your risk of cancer, reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improve your overall health, but I’m a cancer doc, so we will focus on that.
It doesn’t even take running sprints or being a CrossFit athlete or getting your heart rate up so high that you feel like you’re going to vomit.
All it takes is walking at a moderate pace. That’s slightly faster than a leisurely stroll, but by no means is it a speed walk. For those of you that like numbers, that’s 3-4 miles per hour.
So how much does exercise help?
If you’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, you are 40% less likely to ever be diagnosed with cancer if you follow these guidelines. If you increase the number of times you exercise to 5-7 times per week, you can count on a 50% reduction in risk.
And for those of you who have been diagnosed with cancer, if you were exercising prior to your diagnosis and continue to exercise after, you are 40% more likely to survive your cancer than those people that don’t exercise.
If you weren’t exercising prior to your diagnosis, but you start exercising around the time of your diagnosis, you are 25% more likely to survive your cancer.
Those are HUGE numbers! Just from walking a few times per week!
So why does exercise have such a big impact on our cancer-fighting ability?
First of all, exercise decreases insulin, estrogen, and other hormones and growth factors that aid in the development and growth of cancers.
Second, exercise helps decrease obesity and associated insulin resistance- 2 factors strongly associated with cancer risk.
Third, exercise reduces chronic inflammation in our bodies.
Fourth, exercise increases the ability of our immune system to function at its best.
Fifth, exercise speeds up digestion- which means that the GI tract has less exposure to carcinogens and less time to absorb them into our bodies.
Honestly, there probably is no easier way to improve your health and keep cancer away.
If walking isn’t your thing, you can bicycle, swim, run, or dance. The important thing is that you are moving and elevating your heart rate.
Now, go GET MOVING! Your life may very well depend on it.