Beverly Hosford by Beverly Hosford

The risk of getting cancer can be reduced by up to 42 percent with as little as 10-minute bouts of exercise a couple of times per day. Yet about half of Americans are failing to get the recommended amount of physical activity. A combination of education, awareness and providing people with a simple and clear path can help them make the positive changes needed for optimal well-being.

How Exercise Reduces Cancer

Start with Education

There are 13 types of cancer that can be prevented with exercise. Carol Michaels, a leader in cancer recovery fitness, says, “When I tell my clients the research suggests that exercise reduces the risk of recurrence for some cancers, they are motivated to exercise. For those with estrogen-positive cancers they are also motivated to lose weight when they understand that estrogen thrives in the adipose tissue and there is a correlation between obesity and breast cancer.”

It’s not just cancer reduction that can motivate people to exercise. Physical activity benefits the body in a variety of other ways, including:

  • Heightened immune function – help prevent everything from the common cold to diabetes
  • Improved digestive function - metabolize and absorb nutrients more effectively
  • Efficient waste removal - eliminate toxins from the body
  • Better insulin regulation – body processes sugar more effectively
  • Lower inflammation - muscles, skin and organs all benefit from this

Even with all of these benefits, sometimes people aren’t motivated to change their habits until they’ve been personally affected by illness. More is needed to make a change.

Enhance Education with Awareness

Physical activity is intimidating to many people—even the 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity weekly exercise recommended to reduce cancer risk. What some people don’t realize is they’re already halfway there! Walking, gardening, dancing, golfing (without a cart), swimming, taking the stairs and getting up from a desk are all examples of moderate intensity exercise that many people are already doing.

An elevation in heart rate and continuous movement for 10 minutes are the main criteria for exercise to be considered moderate. Helping people track what they’re already doing and filling in the gaps are the keys to success. Keeping notes in an activity journal, on a smart phone or with an activity tracking device can help someone reach their weekly goal.

Keep the Path Simple and Clear

There are indeed choices when it comes to disease prevention. Frequency, intensity and type of exercise are all choices a person can make to customize their fitness program for better compliance. Finding the right schedule and mode of exercise that works for each individual is crucial to creating adherence to a fitness program.

Examples of Daily Fitness Menu Options

Option 1: Moderate intensity 5 days/week x 30 min/day

Option 2: Moderate intensity 6 days/week x 25 min/day

Option 3: Vigorous intensity 3 days/week x 25 min/day

Any one of these can be broken into 10-minute bouts of fitness, so long as the heart rate is reaching 40-60% (moderate) or >60% (vigorous) of the VO2R or HRR. Some people prefer this option, while others like to get it over with all at once. 

Helping people realize the control they have over their health and assisting with the many options available can save a life, literally. Sometimes people just need a helping hand to make exercise less intimidating.

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