I write a lot about food, what to eat and what not to eat, because well, I love food! And I’ve written several posts about how meditation has helped me. So, in honor of Cancer Prevention Month, this week I’m writing about something else that helps greatly in cancer prevention that frankly, doesn’t come easily to me: exercise.
It’s not that I hate exercise, I’m actually pretty coordinated and fairly athletic. The problem is that I am a homebody who would much rather curl up by the fire with a good book in February than go outside or even go to a gym.
Once I get to the gym, I don’t mind it and am proud of my body’s ability to stretch, and lift and push, especially after the last four years’ worth of brutality my poor bod went through (it is a bit worse for the wear, but I’m working to get it back).
Here’s why exercise is so good for preventing cancer. According to world renowned cancer research facility Fred Hutch,
- More than two dozen studies show that women who exercise have a 30 – 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than their less active peers. The reason appears to be estrogen. Women with high estrogen levels in their blood have increased risk for breast cancer. Since exercise lowers blood estrogen, it helps lower a woman’s breast cancer risk.
- Even post-menopausal women need to be concerned about estrogen because the hormone is produced by fat cells. Women who exercise have less fat and therefore produce less estrogen. With more than 150,000 new breast cancer cases reported in the United States each year, preventing cancer through exercise is one of the best ways a woman can take charge of her health.
- It’s not just breast cancer though! Exercise also plays a dramatic role in preventing cancer of the colon and rectum. Nearly 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and nearly 50,000 die from the disease. Good news is, more than three dozen studies show people who exercise reduce their risk of colon cancer by 20 percent or more compared to sedentary people.
You’ve probably heard that you need to exercise at least 3 days a week. Well that recommendation has changed recently to 30 minutes a day and preferably 60 minutes a day of moderate to high intensity exercise. We need to be exercising every day, people.
I like to balance my exercise routine between cardio classes like spinning or fast walking with weight training and a few yoga classes thrown in to calm my nervous system and get a good stretch.
As we get older, it is very important to do weight training. It helps our bones stay strong, reducing our risk of osteoporosis as well as counteracts the lower metabolism brought on by menopause. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells even while they are resting. That’s called exercising while you sleep!
So how do we motivate?
Here are some tricks I have used. A huge component to staying active is about your mindset so give some of these a try:
- Have an exercise buddy or make a friend in a class who is expecting you to show up. Accountability is a great motivator.
- Make a pact with a friend to each exercise daily and text each other when you’ve done it (again, accountability).
- Lay out your work out clothes the night before and put them on as soon as you get out of bed. Also buy some cute workout clothes that you want to put on in the morning!
- Have your gym bag packed (including water) and put it in the trunk of your car the night before.
- Do it first thing in the morning. I have found that exercising first thing is the only way I will for sure get it done.
Let me know in the comments below which tip you are going to take on this week. Remember, it is vitally important to be moving your body DAILY to prevent cancer. Go do it!