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Be physically active

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Up to one hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk. 

Exercise is important to reduce the risk of many cancers. For example:

  • Bowel cancer: exercise can help waste pass through more quickly, reducing contact with cancer-causing agents.
  • Breast cancer: high activity levels may lower the level of oestrogen in the body.
  • Tumour growth: active bodies produce less insulin and insulin-like growth factors that speed tumour growth.

How much exercise?

Up to 1 hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk.

'Moderate intensity activity' is anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate (like brisk walking, mowing the lawn, medium-paced swimming or cycling).

'Vigorous activity' makes you 'huff and puff'. It can be defined as exercise at 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate and includes activities like football, squash, netball, basketball, aerobics, circuit training, jogging, fast cycling and rowing.

How can I be active every day?

  • See exercise as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
  • Walk instead of driving to the shops, and walk during your lunchbreaks.
  • Walk or cycle to work, and walk up stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator.
  • Get off the train or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Do vigorous housework like vacuuming or mowing the lawn.
  • Go and talk to colleagues instead of sending an email.
  • Step it up – a pedometer is a gadget that fits to your belt and counts the number of steps you take. Aim towards a goal of 10,000 steps.

What kinds of activity can I do?

If you don't like the gym, try:

  • active recreation like bushwalking, surfing or cycling
  • active transport such as walking to public transport, or walking or cycling to your destination
  • sports such as soccer, netball and tennis
  • salsa or ballroom dancing
  • strength training like pilates and yoga
  • brisk walking or jogging
  • skipping rope or ball games.

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Questions about cancer?

Call or email our experienced cancer nurses for information and support.

Contact a cancer nurse