By Sarah Garcia - June 24, 2020
Whether you’ve always been a desk dweller, or COVID-19 has you cooped up spending more time at home and on the couch – there’s now new evidence that staying active will keep the doctor away. A study published last week in JAMA Oncology found that participants who were more sedentary had a higher risk of dying from cancer.
The study included over 8,000 adults in the United States, and analyzed data collected from accelerometers, or tracking devices, worn by participants to track physical activity and sedentary behavior.
The recommendation? Sit less, move more. Replacing just 30 minutes per day of sitting with light, moderate or vigorous physical activity may lower your cancer mortality risk. In the study, light-intensity physical activity reduced the risk by 8%, while moderate-intensity activity reduced the risk by 31%.
"Exercise seems to help reduce risk of cancer by improving immune system functioning, protecting against high levels of certain hormones that can raise risk of cancer, and reducing inflammation."- Dr. Brian Gonzalez, assistant member of the Health Outcomes & Behavior Department at Moffitt
How to Get Moving
Light-Intensity Physical Activity
- Working at a standing desk
- Light yard or house work
- Light walking or dancing
- Bicycling less than 5 mph
Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity
- Tennis or Golf
- Recreational swimming
- Brisk walking or hiking
- Bicycling more than 5 mph
Dr. Brian Gonzalez, assistant member of the Health Outcomes & Behavior Department at Moffitt Cancer Center, said the protective effect of exercise may have to do with its impact on the immune system.
“Exercise seems to help reduce risk of cancer by improving immune system functioning, protecting against high levels of certain hormones that can raise risk of cancer, and reducing inflammation.”
Other Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Although this study analyzed the cancer risks associated with a less active lifestyle, it’s also important to note the all-around health risks. Working with your doctor to establish an exercise regimen can have many positive benefits to your health, said Gonzalez. “It can prevent obesity, improve cardiovascular outcomes and prevent diabetes. In addition to reducing the risk of disease, exercise also helps improve overall quality of life and physical functioning."