There’s more to working out than staying fit and looking good. Physical activity has been linked to heart and brain health, decreased arthritis and joint pain and now it’s also associated with reducing the risk of some cancers.

A new study by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute was published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine showing that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a significantly decreased risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers as well as esophageal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, and myeloid leukemia. In addition, physical activity was strongly associated with a decreased risk of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, as well as cancers of the head and neck, rectum, bladder, and lung (in current and former smokers).

One of the ways physical activity may lower cancer risk and other chronic conditions is through maintaining a healthy body weight. However physical activity is also associated with lower estrogen and insulin levels. Both of these may lower the risk of some types of cancer.

What to Do to Stay Active

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to be physically active. Walking at about 3 mph (or 20 minutes per mile) is considered moderate intensity. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week (or a combination of these). You can get in the recommended activity levels by just walking on your lunch break for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Those who exercise more often may need to add time or intensity for their workouts to feel moderate or vigorous.

You may find it easier to stay on your activity schedule by exercising with a friend and changing up your activity and/or your location. In The Woodlands there are so many trails and parks that you can use for exercise that it could take you months of regular walking or running to see them all!

Taking time to exercise so you can feel and look good now is likely to pay off in many more ways in the future.

If you would like more information on this recent study and the benefits of exercise for your overall health, click to view the statistics.