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WHAT IS ‘PHYSICAL ACTIVITY’ AND HOW DOES IT PREVENT CANCER?

Energy Balance is the ‘in and out’ flow of food energy through your body.  You eat food energy and burn it off through body functions like walking, breathing, sleeping and more active functions like washing the car, cleaning the yard, jogging around the OMV.   When your energy flow is in balance, your body will function at its best. 

Your heart rate, cholesterol, glucose, insulin, blood pressure and other functions are normal.  When your energy is not in balance, your body will rebel by producing diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer.   This is also called metabolic syndrome – the grouping of several unhealthy body functions that put you at high risk for developing heart disease and other diseases.  

According to the 2001 National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel, the presence of any three of the following traits in the same person meet the criteria for ‘metabolic syndrome’, meaning that if you have three out of five symptoms below there is a very high probability that you will develop heart disease and other diseases like cancer:

Abdominal obesity: a waist circumference over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women.

Serum triglycerides 150 mg/dl or above  (measured with a blood test)

HDL cholesterol 40mg/dl or lower in men and 50mg/dl or lower in women. (measured with blood test)

Blood pressure of 130/85 or more.

Fasting blood glucose of 110 mg/dl or above. 

Weight, eating habits or ‘diet’, and physical activity are the three parts or components of energy balance.  Physical activity is any body movement that results in the burning of energy.  If you don’t eat healthy and your physical activity level is low then your weight will be high – Not Balanced.  If you are out of balance then your body will develop one or more of the five risk factors listed above.

Researchers have confirmed that physical activity is a critical component of health.  Physical activity burns energy to control weight, regulate cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels, reduce risk of disease, and promote a healthy attitude. 

Studies show that adults who increase their physical activity in frequency, duration and/or intensity, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent compared to adults who are not active.  Those who were most active, enjoying 60 minutes or more of vigorous activity every day, experienced the greatest benefit. 

Over 60 studies have shown that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women, and those who were active throughout their lifetime enjoyed the greatest protective effects from cancer.  Research evidence shows that 30 to 60 minutes of high-intensity physical activity daily is linked to reduced breast cancer risk.  Physical activity lowers hormone levels and insulin, preventing tumors and improving the immune system to fight disease.  Activity also regulates weight and metabolism of hormones like estrogen which is associated with uterine and endometrial cancers. 

More than 20 studies have shown that physically active adults reduce their risk for lung cancer by 20 percent.  Physical activity is also highly recommended for cancer survivors.  Activity fights fatigue, controls weight, insulin and hormones, and promotes a healthy attitude. 

You can achieve ‘energy balance’ by eating enough fruits and vegetables, avoiding fried, fatty, sugary foods and drinks, exercising every day for at least 30 minutes, having your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose checked at least once a year, and keeping your waist circumference below 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.  Remember, any amount and type of physical activity is better than no activity. But, for best results, enjoy vigorous activity for 60 minutes at least three days a week, or moderate activity for 30 minutes at least five days a week. 

As with anything else in life, your ability to do it is largely dependent upon your attitude.  With a positive attitude you can make physical activity a normal part of every day and you’ll be on the road to good health in no time!

For tips and information on energy balance and physical activity visit the following websites:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/energybalance

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa



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