A lot of this issue’s Cancer Research Update focuses on the benefits of physical activity for cancer prevention, which is a relatively new area of study.
It’s clear that being physically active helps us lose and/or control weight. Weight control is the obvious reason to be active, now that research shows excess body fat causes seven different cancers.
Less is known about exactly how physical activity helps fight cancer independent of weight. Studies show that it does, but can physical activity reduce cancer risk regardless of the number on the scale?
And if you want a mental health boost as well as a physical one, try exercising outside. A new study in Environmental Science & Technology found that just five minutes of “green exercise” per day improves mood and self -esteem. Green exercise is any activity that takes place outdoors, such as a backyard garden or walk in a park.
With warmer weather, there are precious few excuses not to add some fun activity into your day. AICR has plenty of “Moving More” strategies here. If you have a fitness tip of your own, please share.
The reasons to make physical activity part of a daily routine just keep building. For one thing: there’s the evidence linking physical activity to reduced cancer risk. The latest incentive to get active comes from a new study that found exercise speeds learning and improves blood flow to the brain in monkeys.
Previous studies have linked improved learning to exercise in rodents; but this study examines this link in monkeys. The study is published in the journal Neuroscience; you can read the release here.
In the study, one group of monkeys was aerobically active – running on a treadmill for an hour each day, five days per week, for five months. Another group simply sat on the treadmill for the same amount of time.
Cognitive tests found that the exercising monkeys learned one task twice as quickly as the sedentary animals.
When it comes to exercise and cancer prevention, the link between physical activity and reducing cancer risk is clear. Regular activity acts with weight control – and excess body fat causes several different cancers – and also appears to have biological effects that lower cancer risk, such as strengthening the immune system.
Want to see if you are active enough? Take our quiz.
If you already incorporate physical activity into your day, how did you get into the habit? Any tips?
As at many health related conferences, the talk is about developing environments in neighborhoods, workplaces and schools to promote good health. That is – encourage more physical activity and access to healthy food. Just about every researcher and practitioner is talking about how to engage the community and neighborhood to help drive these changes. This may seem obvious, but it hasn’t always been done. Read about AICR’s Policy Report Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, which includes recommendations for government, schools, industry, health professionals and others.
Interesting research tidbit: One of the speakers today mentioned a simple initiative of posting signs and prompts around the workplace to encourage more use of stairs in the building. This has shown moderate effectiveness with anywhere from 2-9% increase in stair use. While not a huge change in behavior, it’s an easy intervention for inspiring some change. And an easy way to incorporate more physical activity – which lowers risk for cancer – into your day.
Do you choose stairs or elevators when given the choice?
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American Institute for Cancer Research
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