Exercise helps you fend off cancer!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

run kid run
Who knew a run through the park could prevent cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity – or being extremely overweight – increases the risk of getting at least 8 different types of cancer. However, Dr. Karen Basen-Engquist, the director of MD Anderson’s Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship, has a simple solution: exercise!

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children between ages 6 and 17 get at least 60 minutes of playtime a day. However, Basen-Engquist says it doesn’t have to be as intense as you might think. In fact, all you have to do is walk! “When we’re talking about moderate-intensity exercise, we’re talking about doing exercise kind of at the level of a brisk walk,” she explained. “So, your heart rate goes up, you’re breathing a little bit faster, but you’re not doing an all-out run.”

An easy way to tell if you’re doing it right is to walk with a friend. You should be breathing hard enough not to be able to sing, yet efficiently enough to be able to talk. Still, 60 minutes is a whole lot of time. With school starting and the homework piling up, I just don’t see how I can do it all at once. Well, Basen-Engquist assures us that the exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once! “It’s important to know even if you do [exercise] in 10 minute bouts throughout the day, you can still benefit from that,” she said.

How effective is working out anyway, if it’s just a brisk walk? According to a study conducted last year, women who exercised reduced their risk of developing cancer by about 30 percent! However, this doesn’t mean that once you do work out, you can immediately plop down on the couch and watch TV for hours at a time. Apparently, staying off the couch is just as important as staying active. Basen-Engquist said, “We’ve been finding out that independent of that time you spend exercising, there’s… negative effects of the time we spent sitting.”

She’s not just pulling that statement out of thin air either. A study from July of last year found that sitting less than 3 hours a day adds another two years to your life! On the other hand, sitting for long periods of time has been linked to diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Yeah, I hope my professor doesn’t mind if I stand during class!

Even though the doctor said it’s okay to walk as a form of exercise, I encourage you to play a sport! It’s much more active than walking and you’ll have such a blast with your friends! Just remember: an hour a day keeps the cancer away.

Featured image courtesy of NZ Defence Force on Flickr. Image of running boy courtesy of Hamed Saber on Flickr.