You can lower your cancer risk through eating a healthy diet and being physically active. Find out more about:
Cancer and physical activity
Evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is one of the most important ways to protect against many types of cancer, and doing some physical activity every day can help achieve this. Even if you are not overweight, sitting for long periods (sedentary behaviour) and insufficient physical activity can increase your risk of developing some types of cancer. Collectively, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, and eating unhealthily are second only to tobacco as preventable risk factors for cancer.
Regular physical activity can:
- decrease your risk of cancer and chronic disease
- improve cardiovascular fitness
- help maintain a healthy body weight
- improve bone density
- reduce stress
- improve overall health and wellbeing.
Take time to be active
Australia’s National Physical Activity guidelines recommend accumulating 150–300 minutes (2.5–5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity per week, or 75–150 minutes (1.25–2.5 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity per week.
Being active is not just about physical exercise – you should aim to move your body throughout the day. If you spend a lot of time sitting – at a desk, on the couch, in a car – your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases is increased.
To increase your physical activity:
- Move more, sit less: Look for ways to increase your movement throughout the day and reduce sedentary behavior.
- Start at 30: Begin with doing moderate intensity activities (walking, housework, gardening) for 30 minutes
- Aim for 60: The more physically active you are, the more you reduce your cancer risk. As your fitness improves, aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.
- Huff and puff and halve your time: If your fitness allows, aim to do vigorous intensity activities (fast swimming, cycling or jogging) for 30 minutes every day.
- Make time throughout the day: If you are time poor, break your activity into three blocks of at least 10 minutes each day.
- Remember to consult a GP or health care professional before starting any new exercise regime.
Tips and hints
- Contact your local council to find out about free or low cost activities in your area.
- Include friends and family in your regular activities for company and motivation.
- Ride a bike or walk to work, school, university or to the shops.
- If you use public transport, get off a stop earlier than you normally would and walk the rest of the way.
- If you drive, park your car 10-15 minutes from where you need to be and walk the rest of the way.
- Choose the stairs over the lift.
- Deliver a message in person, instead of phone or email.
- Plan family activities that let you all ‘huff and puff’ – a bush walk, park visit or bike ride.
- Remember to drink water before, during and after activity and be SunSmart when outdoors.
To find out what your workplace, school, early childhood centre, sporting clubs or local council can do to help individuals Take time to be active, register to Cancer Council Queensland’s free online healthy lifestyle program – QUEST. quest.org.au
To learn more about what Cancer Councils across Australia are doing to support Australians to take time to be active every day, view the National Cancer Prevention Policy.
You can also visit Cancer Council’s cut your cancer risk website.