Skip to Main Content

Be Physically Active

Physical activity is key to reduce your cancer risk. Remember: Small changes add up to significant effects.

Limit Sedentary Behaviors

Sitting, lying down and watching television or other screen activities are examples of sedentary activities.

Reducing the time you spend sitting down is important for your health. Long periods of sitting are linked to an increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.

Your goal should be to stand up and move for 1-2 minutes every hour (at the minimum) during the day. Whether it's a short walk, stretching or even a few minutes of light activity. Remember, small breaks from sitting can have a big impact on your health.

Tips to limit your sitting time:

  • Set a reminder on your phone to chime every hour to reminder yourself to stand or move. Even a couple of minutes helps.
  • Break up large chores into small steps.
  • Take the stairs or walk up the escalator.
  • Walk while talking on the phone.
  • Use cues, such as finishing a chapter of your book, a television commercial break, or finishing a work task, as a reminder to move.

Time Exercise Questionnaire

Recognizing where you currently stand can inform your strengths and areas needing improvement. Do you want to assess your physical activity levels? Complete this quick assessment to find out.

Take the Assessment

Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activities, like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, offer many health benefits. Man runningTry to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. This can be divided into shorter sessions throughout the day, like two 10-minute walks, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Aerobic exercises improve your heart health, boost your immune system, and help maintain a healthy weight — all of which contribute to lowering your cancer risk.

What is a moderate-intensity activity?

A moderate-intensity activity is one that will allow you to speak, but not sing the words to your favorite song.

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

Woman lifting weightsThese exercises, also known as resistance or strength training, help build and maintain muscle mass. Your goal should be to do participate in muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week. These muscle-strengthening exercises improve your physical strength, support bone health and manage weight and blood sugar.

The weight used in this type of training includes:

  • your own body weight – e.g. push-ups and squats, yoga
  • free weights – such as dumbbells and barbells
  • weight machines
  • elastic resistance bands

Some people make hand weights from everyday objects, such as plastic bottles filled with water. A scale can be used to track the weight.

Remember, finding physical activities you enjoy can make the journey to a more active lifestyle both fun and achievable. Whether it is a dance class, gardening or playing a sport, every movement counts towards reducing your risk of cancer. By embracing these three behaviors — limiting sedentary time, engaging in aerobic activities and incorporating muscle strengthening exercises — you're taking powerful steps towards reducing your cancer risk.

Exercise with Lifestyle Medicine

Exercise Foundations for Cancer Survivors

Low Impact 10-Minute Aerobic Workout for Cancer Survivors

20-Minute Full Body Workout with Bands for Cancer Survivors

20-Minute Full Body Circuit Training with Dumbbells for Cancer Survivors

20-Minute Aerobic Full Body Workout with Dumbbells for Cancer Survivors

Sylvester and lifestyle medicine logo