Preventing Cancer Through Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Fitness and Proper Nutrition.
Jun 1, 2012
The mere mention of the word “cancer” strikes fear in all of us. Cancer can affect the young and old, strong and weak, male or female. Cancer does not discriminate; all races, geographic locations and socioeconomic classes are at risk. There are studies, theories, and a multitude of proposed ideas on preventing this disease. There is hope. New studies show that certain cancers can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices, including regular exercise and a good nutritious diet. By taking care of the body through proper nutrition and being physically active, it is possible to help ward off this mysterious and often fatal disease.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the evidence for this is strong: Each year, about 570,000 Americans die of cancer; fully one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight.
Regular exercise offers numerous benefits, including an improved sense of well-being, increased strength and flexibility, toned physique, increased body function, better sleep and reduced fatigue. Research indicates that exercise can prevent certain diseases and cancers. Here is some food for thought:
- Exercise reduces obesity, which has been noted as a major factor in some forms of cancers. Generally, people who exercise grow into other good lifestyle habits, including eating healthier to stay fit.
- Exercise speeds up your metabolism, which helps flush food waste and other harmful substances. These toxins travel at a faster rate through the digestive track, which decreases the time that the colon tissue is exposed to waste and toxin.
- Exercise helps to balance hormone levels that are often linked to certain cancers. The female hormone estrogen seems to play a key role. Exercise lowers blood estrogen, lowering the risk of breast cancer. Exercise also reduces other cancer-growth factors such as insulin.
- Dr. Inge Haunstrup Clemmensen, of the Danish Cancer Society, has theorized that regular exercise can boost the immune system; and having a strong immune system can stop the growth of cancer cells.
Since ACS research has indicated that an inactive lifestyle and poor diet lead to increased cancer risk, it becomes imperative to add exercise into your daily schedule. Below are some suggested activities to engage in that will burn fat and boost metabolism. Keep in mind that the benefits of exercise increase as you increase the intensity:
- Brisk walking: This can be done indoors on a treadmill or outdoors around the neighborhood, or on a nature trail.
- Yoga: A great stress reliever, as well as good physical activity.
- Dancing: You can put some music on and dance at home in your living room, at a dance studio or at the health club. Zumba and other dance-based aerobic classes are popular offerings.
- Swimming: Uses all muscles in the body and is a great cardio exercise which is gentle on the joints.
- Tai Chi: This form of martial arts promotes good health through controlled breathing and slow moving exercises.
- Cycling: Whether on a traditional or stationery bike, this is a great cardio exercise.
- Organize a team sport through your workplace: This is a great way to be active, get involved with co-workers and enjoy some healthy competition.
These are just a few suggestions, but the message is that everyone needs to be active, get up and move! National activity guidelines suggest at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. There are other small steps you can take to increase your level of activity. When you are at work, walk to your colleague’s office instead of picking up the phone or sending an email. Take a walk after lunch with your co-workers. Don’t take an elevator if you can take the stairs. Each day make a conscious effort to be active and make good choices.
The other side of the healthy living coin is proper diet and nutrition. By making good food choices, you can build a strong and healthy body. According to The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), scientists believe that a diet based predominately on plant-based foods may help protect against certain cancers. This type of diet includes vegetables, beans, fruit and whole grains. The fiber and water in plant foods gives a feeling of fullness without supplying a lot of calories. AICR recommends that 2/3 of your plate should be filled with vegetables, beans, fruit and whole grains, and 1/3 or less animal protein.
Below are recommendations regarding healthy lifestyle choices that will help prevent cancer from the AICR’s Expert report. These coincide with the recommendations from the American Cancer Society:
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
- Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.
There are a multitude of reasons to fit regular exercise and proper nutrition into your daily schedule. This is an area of your life that you have control over and making the proper choice may save your life someday. Keep in mind that the choices you make each day regarding exercise and nutrition impact your chances of getting cancer. You can begin taking steps today to protect yourself against cancer.
Many companies offer corporate wellness programs to provide the support and resources to their employees to make a healthier lifestyle a reality. If your company doesn’t offer a corporate wellness program, consider being an ambassador at your workplace. You can suggest initiating a wellness program to your human resources department or company management. Your efforts will not only benefit you, but may be instrumental in affecting others and influencing them to make healthier lifestyle choices to prevent obesity, diseases and cancer.
About The Author & Company
Deborah MacArthur, Director of Marketing & PR, FACTS Fitness
FACTS Fitness is a Commercial and Corporate Fitness Management Company located near Philadelphia, PA. FACTS Fitness currently owns and/or manages commercial fitness centers including Ellis Athletic Center in Newtown Square, PA and Steel Fitness in Bethlehem, PA. Corporate Wellness clients have included BPG Properties, BPG Elite Properties, Coca Cola, T-Mobile, Penn State Lehigh Valley and many more.
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