Physical activity and cancer
Did you know that being physically active for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week reduces your risk of bowel cancer? Over 1,800 cases of bowel, breast (post-menopause) and endometrial cancer could be prevented each year if Australians were physically active for more than 150 minutes per week.
Did you know if you’ve had cancer, being physically active can help prevent it from coming back?
How physical activity reduces cancer risk
Besides fighting off weight gain and obesity, physical activity can reduce insulin and insulin-like growth factors which can promote the growth of cancer cells. Exercise also reduces exposure to dietary carcinogens (known to cause cancer) by speeding up food passing through the bowel.
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Cancer Council recommendations
For maximum cancer prevention benefits, Cancer Council recommends aiming for at least 60 minutes of moderate or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day. Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some and gradually build up to the recommended amount. But whatever you do, get active! It will reduce your risk of cancer.
Find out more about physical activity and cancer prevention.
Examples of physical activity:
- Go for a stroll at lunchtime
- Have some active fun such as bike riding, ball games or join a sporting team
- Walk with a friend or join a walking group
- Take a dancing class
- Try an exercise class at the gym
Tips to reduce your cancer risk:
- Break up long periods of sitting or screen time at home and work; get up from your seat every half hour.
- Choose activities you enjoy, plan ahead (have your walking shoes ready) or exercise with a friend. Build at least 30 minutes of walking, swimming or fun in the park into your day.
- Take the stairs, not the lift, or get off the bus 1 stop early.
- Pick up more vigorous exercise. Go for a short jog, a fast cycle or do an aerobics class.
- Even household activities like cleaning windows, raking leaves, mowing or pushing a stroller count as moderate activity.
- Visit gethealthynsw.com.au or call 1300 806 258 for more tips and support.
- If you’ve had cancer, visit Life after cancer treatment to find out what support is available.