A Rigorous Daily Workout Might Reduce Men's Cancer Risk

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Men who workout at least 30 minutes a day, at a moderate to high intensity level were half as likely to get cancer according to new research, the first of its kind to look at cancer mortality and intensity of exercise.

It seems that the increased oxygen consumption associated with moderate to high intensity workouts is involved in lowering the risk of cancer. The study appeared online July 28, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Finnish study included a population-based sample of 2,560 men aged 42-61, assessing the subjects' physical activity and the rate of cancer death. None of the men who participated in the research had any history of cancer.

Participants filled out the 12-Month Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire and were then followed for a 16-year period. During that time there were 181 cancer deaths among the subjects.

The team saw that those who did moderate to high intensity exercise for at least a half hour a day were 50% less likely to develop cancer compared to the other men.

Moderate intensity exercise increases your breathing and heart rate. You'll sweat but be able to talk and carry on a conversation.

Examples include brisk walking, slow jogging, bike riding, swimming, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, softball or baseball, volleyball, doubles tennis or gardening.

High intensity workouts are often shorter, though they burn more calories. They aren't an option for everyone, especially if you're new to exercise - you'll want to make slow, steady progress using longer sessions of less intense exercise.

High intensity workouts are harder to keep up, and should be used sparingly. Tailor the workout to your fitness goals and build up over time and be sure to follow the appropriate training program for your sport.

For this latest research, exercise intensity was calculated in metabolic equivalents of oxygen consumption (METs). Exercises with an average of 4 MET are considered moderate intensity. Some examples here might help.

The average intensity of jogging is 10.1 MET, for cycling it's 5.1 MET and 4.2 MET for walking. The average intensity level for fishing is 2.4 MET and hunting is 3.6 MET.

The team found that as the intensity levels of the exercise increased, the risk of cancer death went down.

In fact, an increase of 1.2 metabolic units of oxygen consumption was related to a decreased risk of cancer death, especially in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, even after all other factors were accounted for in the analysis.

"The intensity of leisure-time physical activity should be at least moderate so that beneficial effect of physical activity for reducing overall cancer mortality can be achieved," recommend the study authors in a news release.

Today there are many risk factors that have been associated with cancer. Some we can control, others we can't.

Smoking is an example of a behavior known to increase your risk for cancer that you can control.

Your genetics, traits that came from your mother and father, are beyond your control though you may be able to help yourself by making lifestyle changes that offer some protective benefit.

Research continues to show that things you do every day, can have a huge impact on your risk of cancer.

You'll want to pay special attention to...

· Diet - fruits and nonstarch veggies may offer some cancer protection, as might a diet low in fat, high in fiber.

· Alcohol Intake - drinking in moderation (2 drinks/day for men; 1 drink/day for women) is thought to be safe, but more than this can increase the risks of liver cancer; colorectal cancer in women.

· Activity - those who are physically active, typically at least 30 minutes a day, have a lower risk of some cancers than those who aren't active.

· Obesity - is a risk factor for several cancers, while losing the extra weight can reduce your risk of these same cancers. Even a little weight loss helps.

The dangers of cancer are real and hard to ignore... however, the good news delivered to us from this latest research is that if a person is active -- even moderately so - he can reduce his risk and enjoy many healthy years.

To your good health,