The New Year is a great time to make healthy changes – start the year off with a new attitude, pledge to get more activity, eat better or do something to better yourself. Since we spend all day talking about cancer, we decided to kick off the new year with the goal of helping you learn about cancer risk and what you can do to reduce your risk. This blog series will focus on some common risk factors and attempt to bust some myths and help you see ways to improve your health and reduce your cancer risk. In part II we will look at activity and a new twist on this approach to reducing cancer risk.
For many years, experts have promoted getting 30-60 minutes a day of “moderate to vigorous” activity to reduce cancer risk. That hasn’t completely changed – they still recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate (you can talk, but too winded to sing) or 75 minutes of vigorous (difficult to talk) activity a week for people over 18. (Kids should get at least 1 hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity) And in terms of cancer prevention, higher levels of activity provide more benefit.
Now all that being said, research has found that sitting leads to larger waist size and high blood sugar and insulin, which create an environment that can lead to several types of cancer. So, if you head to the gym for 45 minutes of spin class 3 times a week, but you sit the rest of the day, you aren’t doing all you can to reduce your cancer risk.
What More Can I do?
The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests making a“Move More Plan” – with the goal of walking more and sitting less. They suggest starting by measuring your baseline- keep track of how much time you sit for 2-3 days – at the office, watching TV, etc.
Then find times you can fit activity breaks into your day.Get up from your desk every hour to go for a water break. Take the stairs when you can, park in the farthest spot at the grocery store. Planning a meeting with a colleague? Do it on the move- walk and talk! Moving increases your energy and creativity. Binge watching that new Netflix series? Get up and do some stretches and jumping jacks between episodes. There are many easy ways to fit in more activity, it just takes your attention to do it.
Did you change your ways?
Measure your sitting time after a few weeks-have you decreased the amount you sit? Have you created new habits that you can stick with? If so, that’s great! If not, brainstorm ways to help you make it happen. Maybe you need to set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up. Maybe you need a motivation partner – a friend to walk at lunch with or to encourage you to walk away from your desk for a few minutes. Every little bit helps, so what are you waiting for? I’ll meet you out front for a walk at lunchtime. ?
Want to learn more about your risk factors and reducing your cancer risk? Take the Reduce My Risk survey!
Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Managing Editor at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking and, of course, her sons.