Movement is cancer medicine

The average American is entrenched in bad habits and focused on comfort and ease. Many people do anything possible to move as little as possible, like parking as close to the entrance as possible or taking an elevator or escalator instead of the stairs for one flight.

It usually gets worse with age and often becomes the path that many cancer patients get on. After all, it’s hard to exert physical effort when you’re dealing with exhaustion and other treatment side effects. But exercise is so important to physical and emotional well-being, so try do what you can. Start where you are and do whatever you can to get your body in motion on a regular basis. The following table shows various types of physical activity on a scale from light to vigorous.

Physical activity levels

The cancer-exercise connection

Results from a Diet, Exercise, Lifestyles and Cancer Prognosis study at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Buffalo, NY) found that any level of consistent recreational physical activity translated to a 19% drop in disease recurrence and 22% drop in mortality. The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute for doctors / scientists and summarized on PubMed for the rest of us.

Exercise delivers benefits beyond cancer protection

Physical exercise also fights heart disease, which kills even more Americans than cancer, and enhances mental and emotional health. Our lungs become stronger with exercise, which maximizes breathing to pump more oxygen into the bloodstream. That extra oxygen also gets delivered to the brain for all kinds of benefits. Read more about the exercise-mind link at Psychology Today.

In most cases, once a body is in motion and stays in motion, it feels good! The problem is that people tend to get more sedentary with age. Bodies start to settle, and it requires more effort to get moving. Rather than giving in to inertia and our aches and pains, we must push through them, slowly and safely of course and at a pace that works for you. If you have been inactive, please consult first with a doctor for an appropriate exercise regimen.

The sad truth is that even physically active people get cancer. However, people with sedentary lifestyles are at higher risk for some cancers and other health problems. Do you want to be dealing with cancer and heart disease simultaneously?

Instead, follow healthy practices like regular exercise. You’ve got nothing to lose but extra pounds and aches and pains, and a whole bunch of benefits to gain.

Exercise tips and tools from American Cancer Society (calculators, how to make exercise work for you and more usable information)