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Physical Activity - The Science

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk for certain cancers.

Doing at least 30 minutes of moderate (not too easy!) activity a day can make a difference.

Physical activity facts

Daily activity can be part of everybody's lifestyle. A good way to start is by setting a goal, such as building an extra 30 or 60 minutes of physical activity into your life, whether at school, at home, at work, or in your community.

Not moving your body much, or being still for long periods is called sedentary behaviour. A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for certain cancers. Lying down, spending a long time in a chair, sitting watching TV and using a computer or tablet are all examples of sedentary behaviours.

Did you know that...

  • Your body weight will be easier to manage if you are physically active and have good eating habits (portion size and nutrition are both important).
  • Certain hormones can increase your cancer risk. Some studies show that regular activity can help keep your hormone levels healthy.
  • Being active helps move food through the digestive system more quickly, lowering the time that any cancer­ causing substances touch the lining of the bowel.
  • It is best for you to have no more than 2 hours per day of screen time (TV, tablet, phone, etc.).
  • People watching screens usually see a lot of marketing for foods high in fat or sugar.
  • A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for colon cancer and other diseases.
  • Canadians spend a lot of their time being sedentary: for kids and youth the average is 8.4 hours per day, and for adults the average is 9.6 hours per day.
  • Even if you are physically active for 30 – 60 minutes each day, if you spend most of your day sitting, you are still at risk for health problems.

What types of cancers are linked to not getting enough physical activity?

Not getting enough physical activity can increase your chances of developing many types of cancer. Please see the "Statistics" tab for details.

Here are some BC statistics (2015 data*) on the number of new diagnoses (male and female) for the types of cancers that likely were caused by a lack of physical activity and being sedentary (listed separately).

Physical inactivity

  • Lung: 330
  • Bowel (key words: colon, rectum, large intestine): 232
  • Breast  (female only): 209
  • Bladder: 132
  • Uterine/Endometrial: 97
  • Oropharyngeal (head and neck): 65
  • Kidney: 42
  • Stomach: 40
  • Liver: 37
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: 35
  • Myeloma: 26
  • Esophageal: 24
  • Myeloid leukemia: 22
  • Small intestine: 13

Sedentary behaviour

  • Bowel (key words: colon, rectum, large intestine): 249
  • Breast  (female only): 99
  • Uterine/Endometrial: 87
  • Ovarian: 42

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SOURCE: Physical Activity - The Science ( )
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