Volume 2 Issue 5

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Page 36 | Abby's Magazine - S tudies show that a consistent exercise program produces a multitude of benefits: increasing your chances of taking and keeping weight off, lowering your risk of adult onset diabetes, and even improving brain function. Another benefit of exercise may be a longer life and reduced chance of cancer. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of more than 10,000 Iowa women in their 50's and 60's found that those who exercise at a moderate pace at least once a week reduced their chances of dying by 30 percent during the seven year study compared to the exercise abstainers. The researchers found a direct relationship between exercise and prolonged life. As exercise increased so, apparently, did life expectancy. But the biggest bump in the life expectancy curve was the difference in deaths between those who performed no exercise and those who got off the couch at least once a week. How strenuous was the exercise these researchers looked at? Not very. In their definition of moderate exercise, they included extended walks, bowling, gardening, and golf activities, which are within the capabilities of almost everyone. Lower Cancer Risk Most studies that examine the relationship specifically between cancer and exercise also find that those who exercise the most tend to experience lower rates of cancer. A study of more than 25,000 Norwegian women published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that over a period of more than 13 years, those who exercised reduced their risk of breast cancer by a substantial 37 percent. This reduction was most significant in exercising women who kept their weight down, were under the age of 45, and kept on exercising for at least three to five years. But women of other ages also showed benefits. One difficulty researchers have in precisely identifying the anti-cancer benefits of exercise grows out of the other good health habits exercisers display. Compared to couch potatoes, those who work out also tend to eat fewer calories and fat, don't often smoke, and drink less alcohol. All of those lifestyle habits may also be associated with a reduced cancer risk. Explaining Exercises' Benefits Researchers are not sure exactly why exercise reduces breast cancer risk, but they've come up with several theories: • Exercise cuts down on body fat. Reduced body fat can alter the body's hormone balance so that you are less susceptible to breast cancer • Exercise reduces stress and thus reduces fat around your midsection. Midsection fat bumps up your levels of harmful hormones • Exercise reduces insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that is related to cancer • Exercise boosts immunity, increasing the activity of the of immune cells that protect you against cancer Unfortunately, not all Americans have taken the benefits of exercise to heart. Anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of Americans perform no exercise at all. Not even walking. Stay on the Good Side of Exercise While working out can reduce your cancer risk, you should probably accompany your perspiration with consistent intake of antioxidant nutrients, especially if you exercise strenuously. According to a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences, exercise stimulates the production of free radicals (harmful, reactive molecules) in the body. While those extra free radicals are believed to be accompanied by increases in the body's ability to diffuse their harmful, oxidative activity, in some people exercise may tip the balance toward excessive production of free radicals, according to researchers. That imbalance could lead to increased risk of cancer and other disease. So how much should you exercise? If you haven't done much physical activity for years, start slow. Even if you only have time for a walk around the block that may be enough to substantially drop your cancer risk. Bike, Dance, Walk or Run Away from Cancer

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