Print This Post

Exercise: fun, healthy and reduces cancer risks!

By Susan Koswan and the Prevent Cancer Now writers’ circle


“The least active individuals have the most to gain from even small increases in activity.” (New finding, January 2015)

“Swedish Vasaloppet skiers developed one third fewer prostate, breast, colorectal and lung cancers than the general population; the fastest skiers developed fewest cancers.” (New finding, February 2015)

Exercise isn’t only good for heart health and diabetes reduction, it also reduces cancer occurrence or recurrence. Besides being fun, reducing your cancer risk is one more good reason to leap off that comfy couch.

Children need at least an hour or two of active play daily, while a minimum of 30 minutes per day for adults is a good start. Mix it up to build strength, endurance, balance and agility – and if you sweat, even better!

For the best of holidays, power off your electronics and get moving. This sets a great example for your kids, that can lead to healthier lives.

The Canadian climate means that outdoor activity could involve rain, sun, mud, wind, even snow or slush – or any combination – but there are lots of ways to have fun. Try a walking tour of your neighbourhood or go further afield. Sports, teamwork like dragonboat racing, bowling, swimming, building a fort with your kids or grandkids – your imagination is your limit.

More movement benefits everyone.

A European study found the greatest longevity gains between the lowest and second-lowest activity groups, no matter the waistline or figure. All inactive individuals – slim or pudgy – may benefit from even small increases in activity.

At the more active end of the spectrum, Swedes who skied the famous long distance Vasaloppet developed one third fewer breast, colorectal and lung cancers compared with the general population. Not smoking, healthy bodyweight, regular physical activity and consumption of fruit and vegetables were common traits among these athletes, but fitness was found to be an important factor, as the faster skiers developed the fewest cancers. Researchers, nevertheless, found higher risks for skin cancer (presumably due to sun exposure) and prostate cancer (more screening is often associated with a healthier lifestyle).

Cancer is Canada’s top killer, surpassing cardiovascular diseases since 2007. The Canadian Cancer Society says that only 5% to 10% of cancers are linked to inherited genes, so there is much we can do to prevent cancer. Exercise alone is not the entire answer, but it is a good “step” in the right direction, along with other healthy choices.


  • Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. CLICK HERE
  • Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC). January 2015. CLICK HERE
  • Cancer incidence in participants in a long-distance ski race (Vasaloppet, Sweden) compared to the background population. February 2015. CLICK HERE
  • Statistics Canada. Trends for cancer and major cardiovascular diseases. CLICK HERE
  • Canadian Cancer Society. Family Genetics. CLICK HERE

Also in the MAY 2015 Issue of An Ounce Newsletter

Published: May 19, 2015


Check out this week’s cancer prevention tips
and help reduce your risk!