This Is How Long You Should Exercise Each Week to Help Lower Your Risk for Cancer, According to Science

Woman goes running outside
Getty Images / Igor Alecsander
The more research teaches us about exercise, the more we realize the myriad effects exercise has on our health. True, if weight loss is the goal, diet plays a bigger role. But we learn that even micro-workouts can boost your metabolism, just walking three times a week can lower the risk of dementia, and exercise can counteract the negative effects of sleep deprivation.
And now we have even more evidence that exercise can help lower the risk of cancer - and we also have more details about the exact amount the needle could move. More than 46,000 cancer cases in the US alone could potentially be prevented annually if we followed the American Cancer Society's guidelines for physical activity of 5 hours per week of moderate exercise intensity, according to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise became . (Incidentally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines brisk walking, aqua aerobics, lawn mowing, flat biking, and other similar activities as "moderate.")
The study, led by Adair Minihan, MPH, of the American Cancer Society, is the first of its kind to measure the number of cancer cases per state that could be linked to physical inactivity based on the cancer sites (breast, endometrium, colon, Stomach, kidney, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and urinary bladder). About 3% of all US cancer cases in adults aged 30 and over are related to inactivity, they found.
These states had the highest numbers of cancers related to physical inactivity:
Kentucky
West Virginia
Louisiana
Tennessee
Mississippi
The states with the lowest numbers of cancers related to physical inactivity:
Utah
Montana
Wyoming
Washington
Wisconsin
Related: These are the 5 best exercises for your health, according to a Harvard doctor
"These findings underscore the need to promote physical activity as a cancer prevention tool and to implement individual and community interventions that address the various behavioral and socio-economic barriers to recreational exercise," the authors tell the American Cancer Society Press Room. "Understanding and reducing behavioral and socio-economic barriers to physical activity is critical to optimizing intervention strategies for at-risk groups across the country."
This last point is crucial, say the researchers. The data clearly shows that 5 hours of moderate exercise per week is beneficial in reducing the risk of several common cancers. However, the data does not explain how this activity can be carried out.
"There are many barriers to physical activity, including lack of time due to long hours in low-wage jobs, costs for gym memberships or personal equipment, lack of access to a safe environment in what to be active, and potential childcare costs associated with leisure activity," they say Researchers, "Unfortunately, these barriers are more likely to affect historically marginalized populations, including blacks and those with limited incomes, underscoring the importance of improving equity in health care."
These systemic changes will take some time to complete, but right now this 10 minute no-equipment exercise plan is a good start to building strength if you're looking for a safe and effective first step.
Next up, yes, you can work out when you literally don't have the time - how to hack your fitness routine

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