Most people are aware that regular aerobic exercise is beneficial to health. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle can be very dangerous, leading to conditions like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Simply the truth: Physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are all improved with exercise.
And, now, there’s compelling evidence that regular aerobic exercise also contributes to a reduced risk of many types of cancer.
For example, a recent study of pooled data reveals that higher levels of physical activity and aerobic exercise can lower cancer risk significantly for at least 13 specific cancer types. For this study, the medical histories and outcomes for nearly one and a half million Americans and Europeans were examined. The results demonstrated that incidents of 13 of the 26 cancers considered were reduced from 10 to 42 percent.
More aerobic exercise equals more health benefits
The high end of this percentage range of 42 percent was associated with those who exercised the most. Exercise types ranged from walking to strolling to jogging, running and other aerobic exercise. The individuals who did the most showed a 27 percent drop in liver cancer risk and a 42 percent drop in esophageal cancer risk.
The study, led by Steven C. Moore, PhD, MPH of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, looked at data from a total of 1.4 million patients. In addition to liver and esophageal cancers, other cancers that showed improvement related to regular physical activity included a 20 to 26 percent drop in lung cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, endometrial cancer and myeloid leukemia risk.
Health benefits of easy aerobic exercise cannot be overstated
Additionally, there was a cancer risk reduction of 13 to 17 percent for myeloma, colon cancer, head and neck cancer, rectal cancer and bladder cancer. Breast cancer risk was found to drop by 10 percent in those who participated in regular physical activity, according to the findings. Regular aerobic exercise has also been found to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Plus, being active also seems to extend life expectancy in general.
Simply put, higher activity levels seems to correlate with better health. However, walking for just 20 minutes per day has been found to lower the risk for many diseases, including cancer. Regular exercise has also been shown to increase longevity and life span by up to seven years. By comparison, a lack of regular exercise is even more detrimental to health than the condition of obesity.
The main message to remember: Just 20 minutes per day of physical activity is a small investment to make to receive tremendous health dividends. You don’t need a gym or expensive equipment, either; walking qualifies as highly beneficial aerobic exercise, and the health benefits of walking could both save and enhance your life. (isn’t that worth the effort?)