In case you needed another reason to get off the couch, exercise has now been linked to substantially reducing the risk of 13 different varieties of cancer. That’s significantly more than scientists initially suspected and that’s not all. The new study also suggests that the cancer-fighting benefits of exercise also hold true for people who are overweight.
The idea that exercise can make you less vulnerable to cancer is not new. Many studies have shown that active people are less likely to develop certain types of cancers. The new study conducted by scientists with the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, as well as Harvard Medical School, and a number of other institutions around the world turned to a large trove of epidemiological health studies conducted in the United States or Europe as their starting point to establish a link between lifestyle and disease risks. Using this treasure trove of existing studies, the researches calculated the role that exercise played in cancer risk. The results were considerable. For most cancers, people who exercised moderately had significantly less risk of developing 13 different types of cancer compared to people who were sedentary. These cancers include tumors in the liver, esophagus, kidney, stomach, endometrium, blood, bone marrow, head and neck, rectum and bladder.
When the researchers compared the top ten percent of exercisers to the ten percent who were least active, results showed that those who engaged in vigorous workouts were twenty percent less likely to develop most of the cancers in the study. On the other hand, however, they were prone to melanoma and slow-growing prostate tumors. This can be explained in large part by the characteristics of active people. Those who exercise also go in for more frequent doctor checkups; resulting in more screenings for prostate cancers. They also often exercise outside in the sun, making them more at risk for developing melanoma.
The good news extends to the fact that the associations between exercise and reduced cancer risks held true even when the researchers factored in body mass. People who were overweight or obese but exercised had a much lower risk of developing most cancers than overweight people who did not move much.
The results don’t lie, exercise is still by far the best way to ensure good health. It costs nothing, has enormous benefits and few side effects. So, what are you waiting for?