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YMCA’s Missy Corrigan: Reducing cancer risk with exercise


BY MISSY CORRIGAN
Health and fitness contributor

Exercise not only promotes and supports a healthy lifestyle, but it is also an important element of cancer prevention and post treatment. In fact, there is more evidence suggesting that exercising after treatment may reduce the risk of recurrence and may increase longevity. Adding regular exercise to your routine may help you maintain a healthy weight, which may reduce your risk for cancer.

Research suggests that being overweight or obese is linked to an overall increased risk of cancer. Fat cells influence the way the body releases hormones and regulates cancer cell growth. According to research from the American Cancer Society, excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 8% of all cancers in the United States, as well as about 7% of all cancer deaths. Being overweight during childhood and young adulthood might be more of a risk factor than gaining weight later in life for some cancers. However, more research is needed to better define the links between body weight and cancer.

The American Cancer Society suggests that at-risk individuals exercise at a moderate intensity level four to five hours per week, combining cardio and strength training. The key is to keep exercise consistent and current. Research shows that the risk-reducing benefits quickly disappear when an exercise regimen is stopped, suggesting that the longer it has been since you have exercised, the greater your risk for developing cancer.

Cancer survivors may find themselves feeling de-conditioned and emotionally fatigued. The goal is to improve physical fitness and functioning to improve quality of life. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests exercise guidelines for cancer survivors progressing over a period of 8-12 weeks, working up to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity 3 days a week and 2 days a week of strength training. The type of program will depend on your current fitness level, what you enjoy doing and what your doctor approves.

Many studies reveal a link between regular exercise and a lower risk of cancer diagnosis or recurrence. Making physical activity a part of your daily routine does not have to be costly or time consuming. Taking a brisk walk every day is an effective exercise that is recommended by the American Cancer Society. If you are post treatment and would like to start exercising again, seek out an exercise physiologist who can tailor a program for your specific condition.



Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at mcorrigan@ymcasumter.org or (803) 773-1404.





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