You’ve been told ad nauseum the importance of daily exercise. You’ve been counseled to work up to 30-60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous exercise. “Physical activity lowers risk for colorectal, postmenopausal breast, and endometrial cancers. Studies also are showing that people who are sedentary tend to have biomarkers for increased risk of inflammation, which, if chronic, can increase your cancer risk,” says Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, Associate Director for Nutrition Programs, American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
A study just released in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a higher risk for three types of cancer—colon, endometrial, and lung—when comparing people with the highest levels of sedentary behavior to those with the lowest. And, the risk increased with each 2-hour increase in sitting time.
What you may not realize is that 30-60 minutes of daily exercise doesn't reduce your cancer risk, if you then fall back on your butt for the rest of the day. “You need to move throughout the day," says Bender. "Take breaks to stretch, walk, maybe lift light weights—anything so you are not just sitting for long periods of time. Physical activity seems to help balance the healthy and unhealthy hormones, and create a healthier environment in your body."