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Cancer Prevention: How Exercise Helps Reduce Your Risk

Facebook Live Recap | OptimizePMD | Wellness

If you're aiming to reduce your risk of developing cancer, consistent exercise is a must. Bow exactly does exercise help reduce your cancer risk? What counts as exercise? Greenville health coach Aaron Benator explains. Watch the video below and read on for a recap. 

7 Cancers Directly Prevented by Exercise

There are seven cancers that can be directly prevented by a proper exercise program. These are breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, and stomach cancer.

You'll find later on that a lot of the cancers can be positively affected by exercise, but these seven can be directly prevented by exercise.

6 Ways Exercise Helps Prevent Cancer

  1. The first one is that exercise lowers estrogen. Estrogen, the sex hormone, is extremely important for the operation of a lot of different aspects of the body, but too much can be extremely negative and too much estrogen circulating through the body has been associated with higher rates of the development of cancer.

  2. Growth factor can also be reduced by a proper exercise program. Growth factor is very important, but again, just like estrogen, too much can be a very, very bad thing.

  3. The next way that exercise prevents the development of cancer is by reducing the amount of insulin circulating through the body. We're learning so much about insulin, primarily how it affects obesity and diabetes, but it is a kind of a growth hormone and excess insulin has been associated with the development of cancer. So reducing the insulin by proper exercise amounts can be very, very beneficial.

  4. Inflammation is also associated with the development of cancer. Exercise can reduce inflammation. There are two types of inflammation that should be noted. The first one is acute, and this is for a short time period, like after you exercise, you might be sore the next day, so this is acute inflammation.

    This can be beneficial, but the type of inflammation that exercise lowers is chronic inflammation and chronic inflammation is the inflammation that is associated with the development of cancer.

  5. Exercise can improve the immune system. We hear a lot about the immune system when it comes to short-term illnesses, viruses, bacterial infections, but the immune system is being found now to affect the the growth of cancer. We want a better immune system when it comes to fighting cancer and exercise can help us develop a stronger immune system.

  6. The next way that exercise can prevent cancer is through improving the metabolism of bile acids. Also exercise increases the speed of food through the body's digestive tract. Food can be carcinogenic depending on how the food is cooked. It can be carcinogenic or certain foods are carcinogenic, so if the food spends less time in your digestive tract, there's a good, strong likelihood that you'll have less of a risk of developing cancer. Also, obesity is associated with 13 different cancers and proper exercise has been shown to help with us as we fight against obesity. 

What Counts as Exercise?

A quick little synopsis of what is exercise. Exercise is physical movement through space against force. It doesn't even have to be through space. Isometric exercises where you hold a a position and you contract your muscle fibers, that is exercise. So there is no space involved exercise.

There are so many different ways to exercise. There are so many different exercise programs. The main thing is you find an exercise you enjoy doing because that's the exercise you'll be more likely to stick with. But again, just find the exercise, do exercise, work the body, you know, feel the muscles work. That's kind of the basic synopsis. There are different types of exercise intensities.

So "mets" are used as the the metric for determining what's a different exercise intensity. One met is pretty much just sitting still. And then as you go up andin mets, it is much, much, much more active.

There are governmental or recommendations for the amount of exercise one does. It is 75 minutes to 150 minutes of intense exercise each week. Not each day, each week. Or 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate exercise each week. And of course, a combination of vigorous exercise and moderate exercise is beneficial.

Different types of exercise. There's cardiovascular exercise — when you sustain a higher heart rate. Balance exercises, you can think about yoga and tai chi and Pilates. Resistance exercise - when you're moving weight, lifting weights, cable machines, dumbbells, resistance bands, you know barbells. They all work resistance. Also the isometric exercise would be you're resisting a force. And again, going back to the concept of enjoyment.

Also, they overlap, so Pilates, if you're doing it on a reformer, that is resistance exercise, but it's also balance. So just finding the exercise you enjoy, really if there's one thing, please exercise and enjoy it. That would be I think the best.

Exercise and Cancer Survivors

So exercise is great for survivors of cancer. First exercise improves the quality of life. Exercise improves energy levels. Exercise can improve sleep quality. This is especially important. We're learning so much more about all the different things that happen when one sleeps. The body recovers, the body repairs itself, and exercise can improve bone strength, which is incredibly important. Breast cancer survivors, colorectal cancer survivors, and prostate cancer survivors especially benefit from exercise.

Mindset Matters

And there's a really interesting study. I'd like to go over with you for just a short bit. Back in 2007 at Harvard, Professor Langer did a study with housekeepers at a hotel. One group of housekeepers, no information was given — the control group. The other group of housekeepers were informed that what they did every day was exercise. Cleaning the toilet. Making the bed, pushing the cart, all that fulfilled the requirements of proper exercise each day.

At the end of the study, the folks who were told what they did was exercise actually got healthier. A lot of their metrics improved — blood pressure, body composition, all that. So the placebo effect is really important. The study was actually called it "Mindset matters: Exercise and the placebo effect." So if you think you're exercising, consider yourself exercising. You're moving, you're exercising, and you'll benefit more from it