Reducing the risks of developing some types of cancers is as simple as being active for at least 30 minutes every day, says researchers. According to fitness experts at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the exercise regimen they created will fit into even the busiest person’s lifestyle.
“You don’t need to go to a gym or do sprints every day to get your 30 to 60 minutes in,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of behavioral science at M. D. Anderson.
Even everyday activities like mowing the grass, scrubbing floors, or shoveling the snow from your driveway if done for at least 30 minutes at a moderate intensity are considered as exercise for purposes of this research outcome. People doing these tasks should be working hard enough to raise their heart rates and increase their breathing.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), being active for at least 30 minutes every day is proven to lower your risks for breast, endometrial and colon cancers. Exercising for 60 minutes is even better.
Why does exercise lower the risk of some cancers? Physical activity may protect against cancer because it lowers body fat, lowers hormone levels that raise breast and endometrial cancer risks, and keeps the digestive system working well to reduce colon cancer risks.
“Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight,” says Basen-Engquist. “And maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your chances for some types of cancer.”
“M. D. Anderson’s seven-day exercise plan combines everyday activities with cardio and strength training to help beginner and advanced exercisers maintain a healthy weight,” she adds.
But cardio is not the only piece of the exercise plan that counts.
The AICR recommends doing activities every day and including weight lifting three times per week to increase the heart rate while providing strength training. “Making your entire body strong by lifting weights is a great complement to doing cardio,” Basen-Engquist says. “Be sure to work the major muscle groups throughout your body each week.”
The benefits of strength training are huge: it prevents muscle loss, builds bone density, and increases the rate at which the body burns calories. Always be sure to take the time to stretch the muscles before exercising them. Stretching the legs, arms and back first will reduce soreness. It will also help prevent muscle tears and injuries.
Start slow to achieve success. If you are new to exercise or haven’t worked out in a while, gradually work up to exercising for 30 minutes a day. Break it down into 10-minute sessions throughout the day if necessary. Studies have suggested that this approach may be as good as one 30 minute exercise session of moderate intensity.
Once you make it to 30 minutes, increase your exercise time to 60 minutes per day or rev up the intensity of the 30 minute workout.