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Step it up to cut cancer risk

Eric Sucar
A pair of men walk along the walking path at the Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy on September 18.

By Sameer Shetty, M.D.

Need a reason to lace up your sneakers and head out the door? Whether you prefer a neighborhood stroll, a yoga class, or a round of golf, exercise can do more than keep you fit—it may reduce your risk of developing cancer as well.

Previous research found a link between exercise and a lower risk for breast, endometrial and colon cancer. But, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that exercise can reduce the risk for 10 other cancers as well, including lung, esophageal and liver cancer.

If you are asking yourself how much exercise you need, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released new science-based guidelines for physical activity on Nov. 12. This is the first time the guidelines were updated since the initial guidelines were released in 2008, but the government says only 20 percent of Americans meet the activity goals.

We know that the immediate benefits of exercise include reduced anxiety, improved sleep and blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), include cognitive benefits reducing the risk of dementia, and significantly lower risks of heart disease.

The new guidelines’ 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity for adults has not changed since 2008, but now include on emphasis on all movement that helps you stay physically active as important.

Not just aerobic activity sessions count towards the goal, any activity that gets your heart rate up, including walking counts. These guidelines also call for adults to complete muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week and exercises that maintain or improve balance three times a week. Balance exercises may include standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walking, and slowly walking while raising knees high.

Here is the great part about physical exercise as cancer prevention and for improved health – it does not have to cost you a thing. Household chores, yard work, gardening and walking all count as moderate-intensity activity. If you have physical limitations look for exercise options that will work for you. Adaptive yoga classes, water exercise and moves that use exercise bands may all be a good fit.

There are no excuses for not getting enough exercise, as research continues to add benefits to the list. Increase your level of physical activity now. However, no matter what your abilities, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Board Certified Internal Medicine physician and Diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine Sameer Shetty, M.D., takes special interest in managing obesity related conditions. His office Premier Primary Care and Wellness is located at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge in Suite 203, 3 Hospital Plaza. To make an appointment with Dr. Shetty or for more information, call 1-800-560-9990, or visit www.sameershettymd.com.

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