Exercise is important to reduce the risk of many cancers. For example:
- Bowel cancer: exercise can help waste pass through more quickly, reducing contact with cancer-causing agents.
- Breast cancer: high activity levels may lower the level of oestrogen in the body.
- Tumour growth: active bodies produce less insulin and insulin-like growth factors that speed tumour growth.
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk.
‘Moderate intensity activity’ is anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate (like brisk walking, mowing the lawn, medium-paced swimming or cycling).
‘Vigorous activity’ makes you ‘huff and puff’. It can be defined as exercise at 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate and includes activities like football, squash, netball, basketball, aerobics, circuit training, jogging, fast cycling and rowing.
How can I be active every day?
- See exercise as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
- Walk instead of driving to the shops, and walk during your lunch breaks.
- Walk or cycle to work, and walk up stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator.
- Get off the train or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- Do vigorous housework like vacuuming or mowing the lawn.
- Go and talk to colleagues instead of sending an email.
- Step it up – a pedometer is a gadget that fits to your belt and counts the number of steps you take. Aim towards a goal of 10,000 steps.
What kinds of activity can I do?
If you don’t like the gym, try:
- active recreation like bushwalking, surfing or cycling
- active transport such as walking to public transport, or walking or cycling to your destination
- sports such as soccer, netball and tennis
- salsa or ballroom dancing
- strength training like pilates and yoga
- brisk walking or jogging
- skipping rope or ball games.