Did you know that nearly a 1/3 of cancer risk can be prevented through exercise? It’s true! In fact, the American Cancer Society claims that if you eat right and don’t smoke you have factored out over half of the cancerous options available to you. I came across this information last night while studying for my nutrition quiz. My roommate and I were revolted by one of the pages that showed pictures of lung, mouth, and skin cancer (yes, life with me can be both nerdy and disgusting). Looking at these pictures made me wonder, why don’t people exercise if the benefits are so life changing?
ACS points out that simply being overweight causes your body to circulate more estrogen and insulin, which are known to increase risks of cancer when they are in higher doses. Thus, staying trim is important to reducing cancer risks. How do we do that? NOT by taking expensive dieting pills, lying on the couch, or wishing we were born athletes, but by eating a variety of healthy foods and exercising regularly-yes, REGULARLY.
Let’s start with nutrition. You have all heard to cut back on sugar, processed foods, empty calories, etc., but what does this actually look like? A good way to start is by reducing your intake of sugary drinks. Even “diet” sodas aren’t good for you, and the American Stroke Association found that drinking diet sodas daily increases your risk of heart disease by over 60%. Yikes!
Second, eat your food on smaller plates. Some people actually have a habit of putting food on their plate until it is full. Making the plate smaller might make you feel more satiated with less food. Now, I am completely opposed to starving yourself, so remember that if you’re still hungry you can always get more.
Eating more fruits and vegetables really is important, since these foods contain anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation in the body’s molecules, which prevents free radical atoms from proliferating. Free radicals are highly unstable, cancerous, and spread over time. Eating more anti-oxidant rich foods will help prevent this from happening. Besides, vegetables are so pretty!
Now, for exercise, don’t be scared. Do yourself a favor and do something you will enjoy. Seriously! My exercise science professor was lecturing on Thursday about how people only stick with exercises they enjoy doing. If you like to dance, there are so many different options available (Latin, ballroom, “club,” Zumba, etc.). Find one you like and stick with it or experiment with them all! If you’re really stressed out, kick box, lift weights, run, take yoga, or try pilates. There are so many options out there; if you’re really looking you WILL find something you enjoy.
The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests 30 minutes of exercise for every day. This is about the length of a TV episode, but with no commercials! Also, exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, but even if you do shell out a few dollars it beats increasing the risk of medical bills later on down the road.
Thompson, J., & Manore M. (2012). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc.
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