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The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 60 percent of the U.S. population fails to routinely exercise.

It’s been proven that being overweight increases your risk of colon and postmenopausal breast cancers. It is also likely that carrying excess weight increases your risk of developing many more cancers, such as ovarian or aggressive prostate cancer. However, establishing healthy eating habits and being physically active can reduce your risk for many cancers.

Physical activity improves the quality of life for our patients by improving stamina, strengthening muscles, and increasing heart and blood vessel fitness. We recommend you aim for a level of activity appropriate for your age and cancer treatment plan.

A moderate level of physical activity should cause you to break a sweat and increase your heart rate yet still allow you to carry on a conversation.

The American Cancer Society recommends healthy adults get a minimum of 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least five days per week. You don’t have to do it all at one time – you can break it up into 10-minute increments throughout the day.

Examples of moderate exercise include:

  • Biking on level ground
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Horseback riding
  • Golf
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Walking
  • Yoga

Examples of vigorous exercise include:

  • Aerobics
  • Racquetball
  • Basketball
  • Jogging
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Martial arts
  • Swimming

If you have a relatively inactive lifestyle, increase your activity levels slowly. You should feel comfortable with a lower rate of physical activity before escalating a physical fitness routine.

Even small increases in your daily level of physical activity can give you health benefits. Here are some simple, creative strategies can increase activity levels:

  • Walk or ride a bike instead of taking a bus or car.
  • Walk to talk to people in the office instead of e-mailing them.
  • Head to the gym for a 30-minute workout over lunch.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Wear a pedometer and deliberately increase steps throughout the day.
  • Plan physical activities on family vacations.
  • Walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle while watching television.