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How Physical Activity May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

March 1, 2018 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Physical activity and cancer

Based on estimates, one out of every two Canadians is likely to develop cancer in their lifetime. In Canada, 30 per cent of all deaths are related to cancer. In fact, it is the leading cause of death in Canada.

You may have lost or known someone who has experienced cancer, just as I have. There are factors you can’t control when it comes to lowering your risk of cancer, but there are some very positive things you can do to lower your risk.

Healthy choices like eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and being physically active are things you can do to help reduce your chances of getting cancer.

Being physically active can lower your risk of many types of cancer. Researchers are not 100 per cent sure how being physically active helps prevent cancer, but studies suggest it may have something to do with reducing certain hormone levels, decreasing the risk of obesity, lowering inflammation, improving immune function, and speeding up the movement of food through the intestinal track.

What type of activity helps reduce cancer risk? How much physical activity should you do?

Do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. This means breathing harder and having your heart pump faster. Research even shows that those with higher cardiorespiratory fitness (that is, those whose lungs and heart are strong and good at delivering oxygen to their working muscles) have a lower chance of cancer. Include resistance training (lifting weights, body weight exercises, heavy yard labour) twice a week, in addition to aerobic activity.

Learn more about how physical activity can help prevent cancer – call HealthLink BC by dialling 8-1-1 and ask for Physical Activity Services for cancer.

HealthLink BC’s Physical Activity Services now has qualified exercise professionals with cancer-specific training. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, or are a cancer survivor, and would like information on how to safely be physically active, dial 8-1-1 and ask for Physical Activity Services for cancer.

Related blogs

Physical Activity After Breast Cancer

Recommended resources

Canadian Cancer Society: About half of cancers can be prevented
BC Cancer Agency: Prevention



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