We all know exercise and physical activity is good for us. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could tell you that activity is not a component of balanced, healthy living. (Or at least honestly, and not part of a last-ditch attempt to spend a lazy summer’s day sunk deep into the couch watching baseball and drinking beer!)
But, in case you need more evidence to convince you, a large study of over 40,000 men reported in the British Journal of Cancer shows activity and walking or bicycling daily help to reduce cancer mortality and increase cancer survival.
In 1997-98, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden and Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA sent out questionnaires to all men aged 45-79 years in a central region of Sweden. The form aimed to assess the population’s physical activity levels, smoking and drinking habits, incidence of diabetes, and family histories of cancer. Physical activity levels were assessed from questions based on occupation, housework, walking/bicycling, active leisure, and inactive leisure and took into account both the duration and intensity of exercise. Each activity was converted to a metabolic equivalent hour by the researchers, and these were added together to estimate total daily physical activity.
The study authors found that the higher the daily physical activity, the lower the rate of death from cancer. While the results show that a man would have to walk or bike more than 30 minutes per day to to guard against developing cancer, this level of activity did show a 34 percent reduction in cancer mortality and a 33 percent increase in cancer survival when compared to men who hardly ever walked or biked. In addition, walking or biking 60 minutes per day reduced cancer incidence by 16 percent, which, as the author’s point out, fits nicely with the American Institute for Cancer Research’s recommendation of 60 minutes a day of moderate activity for the best health benefits.
So this might be something to bear in mind as the gas prices continue to rise and you are looking at alternative ways to get around. It will be cheaper and healthier to stick with good ol’ legpower!