Physical Activity and Cancer – Position Statement

Key Messages
Physical activity is important for good health and well being. Physical activity can help to prevent a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Being active also helps to maintain a healthy body weight, improve mental well being and helps people feel better and sleep well.

There is convincing evidence that physical activity protects against colon cancer. There is probable evidence that being physically active reduces the risk of cancer of the endometrium and breast (especially in post-menopausal women).

There is limited but suggestive evidence that physical activity may reduce the risk of lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancers. The evidence on physical activity and prostate cancer risk is inconsistent.

Cancer Council supports and encourages the National Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend people put together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) on most, if not every day of the week and also undertake some regular vigorous exercise for added health and fitness.

For cancer prevention, the evidence suggests that 30-60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity may be most beneficial. Therefore people should try to work towards doing 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity (such as aerobics, jogging or fast cycling) OR 60 minutes or more of moderate activity (such as brisk walking or medium-paced swimming) every day.

For people that are inactive, any increase in physical activity is beneficial. The Cancer Council encourages people to increase the amount of incidental activity they do, as this can help increase the total amount of energy burnt and assist in maintaining a healthy body weight.

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Physical Activity and Cancer Position Statement