Harvard Men's Health Watch

Exercise and malignancy: Can you walk away from cancer?

Exercise puts nearly every part of the human body to work, and nearly every part of the body responds to regular exercise by getting stronger and healthier.

Exercise stokes up the metabolism. The tissues become more sensitive to insulin, so blood sugar levels fall and less insulin is needed to keep sugar levels in balance. Regular exercise boosts the HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowers the LDL ("bad") cholesterol. By burning calories, exercise reduces body fat — and it's particularly good at reducing abdominal obesity, which is especially hazardous to health.

Exercise improves the circulation. The heart muscle gets stronger, so it can pump more blood with each beat. Regular exercise helps the heart resist abnormal rhythms, including the serious arrhythmia that can trigger sudden death. Arteries also benefit; their ability to dilate (widen) is enhanced, and they resist the stiffening that accompanies aging in sedentary people.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »