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7 Ways Exercise Can Boost Cancer Prevention

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Living a healthy lifestyle sounds great in theory, but finding the time to eat right and exercise can seem intimidating. However, research has discovered that exercising maybe more beneficial than most Americans realize. Scientists have discovered that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing colon, breast, prostate, lung, and endometrial cancers, all of which are among the most common cancers in the United States.

Exercising doesn’t have to leave you dripping in sweat and so stiff you feel like you can’t walk. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that American adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise about five times a week, or 20 minutes of high intensity exercise three times a week. These sessions can include walking, swimming, biking, and running. 

Unfortunately, only half of all Americans get enough exercise, which means that only 50 percent of people are actively reducing their chances of developing cancer. It’s time to take your health into your own hands! Find out how regular exercise can help keep cancer at bay. 

1. Exercise Prevents Sedentary Behavior

When you’re moving, you aren’t sitting. Exercise gets you up from sitting or laying around the house and watching TV or staring at your smartphone. Just moving and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can help you stay healthy and reduce the risk of developing cancer.

It’s easy to get moving. Start by walking around when you’re on the phone, use the restroom on a different floor of your home or office, or just set an alarm to stand up and move around every hour. 

2. Exercise Helps You Keep A Healthy Weight

A high Body Mass Index (BMI) has been correlated to a greater risk of developing cancer. The National Cancer Institute cites that in 2007, obesity caused four percent of new cancer cases in men and seven percent of new cancer cases in women. They also found that if every American decreased their BMI by only one percent, it may prevent 100,000 people from developing cancer.

The weight that you gain around your abdomen is especially dangerous to your health. Belly fat goes much deeper than what you can see on the outside. This type of fat surrounds your internal organs and can cause several health problems, including cancer.

However, there is positive news if you lose a few pounds. People who are at a healthy weight have a reduced risk of developing several types of cancer and they have a greater chance surviving if they are diagnosed with cancer. Talk with your doctor about what a healthy weight is for you.

3. Exercise Regulates Your Body

When you exercise, your metabolism, insulin levels, and hormones all balance out. This process regulates your body, which has benefits for your digestive system. This balancing act could decrease the amount of time your colon spends in contact with cancer causing agents, which may reduce your chances of developing colon cancer. It pays to keep your body functioning in tip-top shape!

4. Exercise Can Boost Your Immune System

Your immune system is the first line of defense against illnesses and diseases that try to invade your body. Exercising increases how well you immune system works to fight off potential issues, which could help prevent cancer.

While researchers aren’t exactly sure how exercise and immunity work together, they do have several theories. The theories include how exercising helps white blood cells (immune system cells) move faster through your bloodstream, and how physical activity can decrease stress hormones, which are damaging to the immune system. 

5. Exercise Lowers Your Hormones

Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise have a decreased amount of hormones in their bodies, which could help prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and endometrial cancer. One study showed that women who exercised five times a week had lower levels of breast cancer-causing estrogen in their urine than women who did not exercise at all. These women also had higher levels of the harmless type of estrogen than the sedentary women.

6. Exercise Can Defeat Inflammation

Your body responds to injury and illness with inflammation. Some people experience constant, low-grade inflammation, which can increase the risk of developing some cancers. Examples of chronic inflammation include asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and sinusitis. Exercising has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body, which also decreases the risk of developing cancer.

7. Exercise Helps Your Body Accept Insulin

The hormone called insulin tells your body to use the glucose (sugar) in your blood for energy. Those who have insulin resistance problems have higher blood glucose levels, which is a risk factor for some cancers. Exercise helps the insulin in your body work properly with your cells. Exercising also kick-starts a reaction in your muscles that allows your body to use the glucose without any assistance from insulin, which is an important note for diabetics. 

It’s time to get to work and start reducing your risk of developing cancer today! Unfortunately, sometimes cancer can’t be prevented. If you or a loved one ever encounter a cancer diagnosis, turn to the trusted doctors at the John Stoddard Cancer Center for the best multidisciplinary care.