Reducing the Risk of Cancer Through Physical Activity

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness."

This is a quote from Edward Stanley, a British statesman who lived from 1826 to 1893. This 100-plus year old quote was recently proven true by the American Institute for Cancer Research whose new research shows that sitting for long periods can increase cancer risks. Their reports stated that as many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer occurring in the U.S. every year can be linked to a lack of physical activity. The study also showed that even those who exercise daily are still at risk if they engage in long periods of immobility. And the number one culprit of sedentary behavior is the office environment.

Most office workers spend about 75% of work time sitting. They usually sit for 30 minutes or more at one time. But evidence shows taking 1-2 minute breaks every hour can reduce cancer risks. These breaks can be as simple as walking to a colleague's office instead of sending an email or going to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

Practical Tips for Moving More

By now, we've all heard advice to "Take the stairs, not the elevator." it's certainly a good habit to get into, but there are many more ways to infuse your day at work with more activity:

  • Set the timer on your computer to remind you every 60 minutes that it's time to step away from your desk and take a short walk down the hall.
  • "Walk with me." Got a quick thing to discuss with a co-worker? Instead of sending an email, ask him or her to join you for a walk to hash it out on the go.
  • Keep light hand weights in your office to use while reading email or talking on the phone.
  • During all phone calls and phone meetings, stand up and walk around.
  • Your office or cubicle wall is all you need for simple activities like stretches, vertical push-ups and leg lifts.
  • For a more vigorous activity break, ask your employer to put a punching bag or chin-up bar in your break room.

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Family and Consumer Sciences Agent