A recent study published in the prestigious journal Cancer Research has provided encouraging news regarding the potential role of aerobic exercise in reducing the risks of certain cancers. The study found that engaging in regular aerobic exercise, particularly running, could significantly decrease the chances of developing or recurring certain types of cancer by an astounding 72%. This groundbreaking research has opened up exciting possibilities for individuals looking to take proactive steps in reducing their cancer risk.
The Anti-Cancer Benefits of Running
Aerobic exercise used to be all the rage in the 80s and 90s. It was the number one, go-to form of exercise for weight loss. In recent years, cardiovascular exercise has taken a bit of a backseat as resistance training (aka weight lifting) has surged in popularity. While weight training may be beneficial for your body composition, it doesn’t have near the same protective effects against cancer, according to this new research out of Tel Aviv University. According to their findings, cardio – especially running – not only helps to prevent cancer, but it can reduce risk of recurrence in those who’ve already beat the disease. (1)
The Power of Running
Running has emerged as one of the most effective forms of exercise in reducing cancer risk. The study found that individuals who consistently engaged in running activities experienced an impressive 72% reduction in their likelihood of developing certain types of cancer. This is due in part to the intense cardiovascular workout that running provides, which can help to improve overall health and bolster the immune system, making it more effective in fighting off cancer cells.
The researchers looked at health data from 2,734 people over a 20-year period. They determined that those who engaged in regular high-intensity aerobic workouts like running had 72% fewer metastatic cancers than those who were sedentary. In the second phase of the study, they monitored mice engaged in aerobic exercise before and after being injected with melanoma cancer cells. The mice who exercised regularly had fewer cancerous tumors than the mice that didn’t. They then analyzed the protein expression in their mouse model and observed metabolic changes related to glucose use in the active mice. The researchers said this suggests that exercise was creating glucose demand on internal organs, thus “starving” cancer cells of necessary fuel to spread and grow.
Other Beneficial Exercises
While running has shown to be particularly beneficial in cancer prevention, the study also highlighted other activities that can contribute to reducing cancer risks. Swimming, cycling, and rowing were found to be effective exercises that can positively impact cancer risk reduction. Incorporating these exercises into your fitness routine can be a great way to maximize the potential benefits and diversity of your workouts.
Getting Started with Running
If you’re considering incorporating running into your exercise routine to reduce your risk of cancer, here are some tips and guidelines to help you get started:
- Consult with a healthcare professional: Before embarking on any new exercise program, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional. They can assess your current health status, discuss any individual considerations, and provide guidance on how to safely begin incorporating running into your fitness routine.
- Start slowly and gradually increase intensity: If you’re new to running, it’s crucial to start slowly and gradually increase your intensity and duration. Begin with a brisk walk, and then alternate between walking and jogging. Over time, you can increase the distance and speed of your runs as your fitness level improves.
- Invest in proper running gear: Ensure that you have appropriate running shoes to support your feet and prevent injuries. Additionally, wear comfortable clothing that allows for freedom of movement and helps regulate body temperature.
- Warm-up and cool-down: Prior to running, engage in a warm-up routine that includes dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles for exercise. After your run, perform a cool-down by gradually decreasing your pace and stretching to help prevent muscle soreness and aid in recovery.
- Set realistic goals: Establish realistic and achievable goals for your running routine. Start by setting short-term goals, such as running for a specific time or distance, and gradually work towards more long-term objectives. Tracking your progress can help keep you motivated and inspired to continue.
- Mix it up: While running is a beneficial exercise, incorporating other forms of aerobic exercise into your routine can provide additional health benefits and prevent boredom. Consider alternating between running and activities like swimming, cycling, or rowing to keep your workouts fresh and engaging.
Remember, consistency is key when it comes to reaping the anti-cancer benefits of running. Strive for regular exercise sessions, aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, as recommended by health experts.
Consider Joining A Running Group
One of the biggest barriers to people joining running is lack of motivation and finding it boring. Thankfully, running doesn’t have to be boring and antisocial. In fact, it can actually be a lot of fun – if you surround yourself with people who are also looking to achieve fitness goals. Joining a running group can provide you support, knowledge, and motivation to keep showing up and to push yourself just that little bit extra. It can also be a great way to make friends and meet people who are also trying to do something healthy.
Look up running groups in your town or city. Most running stores have groups, including learn-to-run groups. Check out apps like Meetups or Heylo to find fun fitness groups where you live to help keep you motivated. Finally, change your mindset. If you go into every run saying “I hate running”, you will be miserable. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to celebrate what your body can do and enjoy the outdoors.
By adopting a running routine and following these guidelines, you can take a proactive approach in reducing your risk of certain cancers and enjoy the numerous health benefits that come with regular aerobic exercise. Stay committed, stay motivated, and let running guide you towards a healthier, cancer-free future!
- “An Exercise-Induced Metabolic Shield in Distant Organs Blocks Cancer Progression and Metastatic Dissemination.” AACR Journals. D. Sheinboim, et al. January 25 2022.