It’s one of the best actions you can take to cut your risk of cancer. Half an hour a week can add years to your life. The return on time invested is awesome.
I’m talking about exercise, but not just any exercise, as you’ll see in a moment. There’s new evidence on that old debate about which type of exercise is best. Meanwhile, here’s an example of the sheer power of this “free cancer medicine”. . .
Slashes breast cancer risk 30-40%
Women who exercise can radically reduce their risk of breast cancer by a stunning 30 to 40% compared to their sedentary peers. This has been proven in at least 24 studies.
The hormone estrogen may play a key role here, as high estrogen levels equate to increased breast cancer risk. Exercise lowers estrogen levels, correspondingly lowering your breast cancer risk.
What’s more, exercise reduces levels of other cancer-growth factors, including insulin.
Post-menopausal women beware…
After menopause, estrogen is produced by fat cells. Exercisers have less fat… therefore lower estrogen levels.
More than 150,000 new breast cancer cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, so exercise could save many lives.
Even moderate activity slashes your cancer risk because it lowers insulin. Important because most American women gain one to two pounds per year, putting them in real danger over their lifetime.
Take a hike to tell colon cancer to take a hike
The benefits of exercise don’t stop with breast cancer. Every year, 150,000 Americans get a diagnosis of colon cancer, and 50,000 die from it. But more than three dozen studies show you can slash your risk by 20% or more just by exercising.
This preventive works well for both men and women, though the effect seems to be greater for men.
What is it about exercise that reduces colon cancer risk so much?
Exercise triggers protective changes in digestive acids and other substances. Decreased levels of body fat, insulin, and other growth factors also help lower colon cancer risk.
Scientists are also studying how physical activity actually alters DNA repair mechanisms.
Recent study reveals the best exercise to prevent cancer
It’s a long-running debate, even a controversy… what type of exercise offers the greatest benefits?
New research from the University of Sydney seems to settle the question once and for all1 … at least if your goal it to live a long life and avoid a cancer diagnosis.
And it’s fantastic news if you hate jogging and marathons.
Researchers discovered that strength training trumps cardio in preventing premature death – especially cancer deaths. This was from a study of 80,000 adults over age 30 – a significant pool of participants, where age, health status and lifestyle were factored in.
And it only took two strength training sessions per week to slash their risk of death from cancer by almost one-third (31%).2
Tellingly, it also slashed overall premature mortality by 23% — nearly a fourth.
But you might want to combine it with some aerobics. Those who combined aerobic and strength training had the best benefits of all.
Great news for you if you hate running, treadmills, and gyms
Fortunately, you don’t need a CrossFit box or any other gym to reap these rewards. No need to spend all that money or driving time.
You can do strength training on your own at home, in your yard, or at a park. The trick is to actually do it.
Strength training uses your body weight or other resistance. It makes your muscles work harder than normal, increasing their strength, size, power, and endurance.
Examples of strength exercises include:
1. Weight lifting
2. Pulling on resistance bands (cheap and easy to travel with!)
4. Sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups
5. Planks and their variations
Not only does strength training help prevent cancer and promote longevity, it also helps prevent age-related bone and muscle loss and reduces your risk of falling and therefore losing your independence. It’s a well-known way to avoid osteoporosis and – to tempt men a little – it’s one of the most effective ways of increasing your testosterone.
Strength and flexibility also keeps you functionally fit and independent, reduces aches and pains, and lowers your risk of injury.
Notably, those two strength sessions per week do not count toward the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activities, such as walking or cycling.
Cuts cancer deaths and recurrences in half
If you currently have cancer, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. But you should make it front and center. That’s what I did a few years ago when I found out I might have prostate cancer.
The stats in favor of exercise are overwhelming. The benefits are too big to pass up.
A recent review of more than 100 epidemiological randomized studies of 70,000 cancer patients found that exercising reduced cancer-related mortality by up to 44 percent… cancer recurrence by 35 percent… and all-cause mortality by up to 48 percent.3
It also meant less fatigue, functional decline, and psychological distress. People who “treated” their cancer with exercise even found their relationships with others improved and they were also able to return to work sooner. It’s practically malpractice to ignore the weight of this evidence.
Don’t wait. Start today, even if you have to start slow and small.
How your muscles fight cancer
Just take a look at the benefits of strength training:
1. Lowers insulin
2. Boosts sugar uptake into your muscles, because it’s needed for energy during exercise… meaning less cancer-promoting sugar and insulin floating around in your bloodstream
3. Decreases cancer-related hormones
4. Lowers inflammation
5. Increases immune function
6. Lowers body fat
7. Boosts muscle-derived IL-6 up to 100 times, depending on exercise intensity
You can literally beat cancer with bigger muscles.
Your brain will thank you too!
What if you’re more concerned about your brain function than about cancer?
Fortunately, you can kill both birds with the same stone. Bigger muscles led to bigger brains in at least one study.
Cognitive-focused research followed 100 people age 55 to 86 as they exercised… measuring the effects on their brain through MRIs and tests.
After six months, the folks in the study improved cognitive function and even saw physical growth in key areas of their brains.4
All they did was lift weights at 80% of the maximum they could handle, twice a week.
The study’s lead author, Yorgi Mavros of Sydney University, now recommends twice-weekly weight training for those of us who want to keep our mental fitness sharp as we age. I hope that includes you.
But the key is to do it frequently, at least twice a week. And to do it at a high enough intensity that you maximize your strength gains. Because that’s what causes the brain gains.
The “perfect” snapshot of your strength
A familiar bread-and-butter exercise – the push-up — is a wonderful measure of strength and endurance, says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.5
You can do them anywhere, any time. All you need is your own body weight and a few minutes.
Push-ups engage nearly every part of your body, head to toe. They work multiple muscle groups at once – arms, chest, core, hips, and legs.
They’re also easily modifiable for intensity or muscle groups.
Since they give instant feedback, they can help keep your motivation high. Just try to add one more every day.
In a regular push-up, you lift 50% to 75% of your body’s weight. With knee or inclined push-ups, you lift 36% to 45% of your body’s weight. These are easier for those of us who are older or not in good shape. See how at this link:
Make them a part of your early morning routine, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Prime yourself for success by doing these things today
The reason so many people fail is because they don’t use simple strategies for success. So they lose motivation and end up right back where they started.
Here are six keys to see you through to success:
1. Know your big “why.” It’s potentially a lot more motivating to protect your health than it is just to look great.
2. Buddy up. Two are better than one. The right exercise partner can work wonders. You might be tempted to skip it today, if it weren’t for the fact that someone else is expecting you to walk three miles with them.
3. Double up your time. Do sit-ups or jump on a mini-trampoline while watching TV or listening to a podcast.
4. Exercise first thing in the morning before work. It helps prevent time creep that precludes exercising later in the day.
5. Choose an activity you actually like… you’ll be much more likely to follow through.
6. Make a vision board showcasing all the benefits you’ll experience from your workouts.
Remember: Your health is worth the effort. And your days will be filled with more energy and better brain focus as well. You’re sure to love the results.
- Emmanuel Stamatakis, I-Min Lee, Jason Bennie, Jonathan Freeston, Mark Hamer, Gary O’Donovan, Ding Ding, Adrian Bauman, Yorgi Mavros. Does strength promoting exercise confer unique health benefits? A pooled analysis of eleven population cohorts with all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality endpoints. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwx345