Exercise has a positive effect on lowering the risk of different cancers such as liver, lung, breast, and kidney.
However, traditional exercise can be time-consuming, demanding commitment, and often involves expenses or travelling to a gym. These practical challenges make it difficult for most adults to regularly exercise.
Interestingly, there is limited research on the potential of incidental physical activity in decreasing cancer risk. Incidental activities encompass everyday tasks like running errands on foot, work-related physical tasks, or housework integrated into daily routines.
The advantage of such activities lies in their minimal time commitment, no need for special equipment, and no additional practical arrangements.
In a groundbreaking study published, researchers examined the health potential of brief bursts of vigorous physical activities integrated into daily life.
These activities could include short power walks to reach the bus or tram stop, stair climbing, carrying heavy shopping, active housework, or engaging in energetic play with children.
Around 22,398 UK Biobank participants, aged around 62, wore activity trackers for a week. They hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t exercise for leisure. 55% of them were female. The trackers monitored their movement and the data collected was linked to cancer registrations and health records spanning 6.7 years.
Cancer risk was estimated considering intermittent physical activity levels. The study focused on 13 cancer sites connected to exercise and also considered age, smoking, diet, and alcohol.
Participants had bursts of vigorous activity without structured exercise, with 94% experiencing bursts of up to a minute.
Engaging in 3.5 minutes of vigorous activity daily reduced cancer risk by 17-18%, while 4.5 minutes lowered it by 20-21%. Breast, lung, and bowel cancers saw reductions of 28-29% and 31-32% respectively.
The study shows the great benefits of adding energetic activities to daily routines. These short bursts of intense physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer, even without formal exercise.
So, if it’s difficult to stick to a workout plan, embracing more intense daily activities can still help lower the risk of cancer.