If you need another reason to get moving this winter, consider this: A study published online Oct. 4, 2021, by the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that the United States might avoid tens of thousands of cancer cases each year if we all start exercising more. Researchers evaluated the self-reported physical activity of more than half a million U.S. adults, as well as adult cancer cases in every state and the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2016. Scientists estimated that about 3% of cancer cases per year (about 46,000) could be attributed to inactivity — defined as getting less than 300 minutes of exercise per week. Rates of cancers of the stomach, uterus, colon, esophagus, breast, and bladder all were lower among more physically active people, particularly those who did at least 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking. That works out to about 43 minutes per day. Because this is an observational study, it doesn’t prove that increasing your physical activity will reduce your risk of cancer. But there is strong evidence that this level of activity also is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia — and possibly many common types of cancer.
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