To Your Health
March, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 03)
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There is no one-size-fits-all osteoporosis prevention plan. If you're just starting out, or if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, talk with your chiropractor about a workout regimen that's right for you, given your current fitness level. Your doctor might also recommend certain vitamin and/or mineral supplements to improve or reinforce bone health.

Whether lifting weights, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing or dancing, as long as your muscles are working against gravity for at least 30 minutes per day, your bones are reaping the benefits. And just like aerobic exercise for your heart and lungs, those 30 minutes don't need to be done all at once; 10 minutes at a time, incorporated as part of a regular routine, still provides benefit.

Reduce Your Cancer Risk With Exercise.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, responsible for nearly 23 percent of all deaths. And while the majority of these deaths are still attributable to tobacco use (despite warning after warning), one-third of all cancer deaths in the U.S. each year are attributable to poor diet and physical activity habits, such as being overweight or obese. That's more than 166,000 deaths per year! The American Cancer Society's cancer prevention guidelines emphasize maintaining a healthy weight throughout life as the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.

Older woman standing on tennis court with a racket ready. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Staying Fit doesn’t have to involve lifting heavy weights or going to a gym every day. Anything from playing tennis to gardening to doing housework will get your heart pumping. Second to (and an essential part of) maintaining a healthy weight throughout life, adopting and maintaining a physically active lifestyle is listed among the top four cancer prevention recommendations. The guidelines also recommend a few strategies to achieve these lifestyle changes; they may sound familiar, particularly the last recommendation:

  • Balance calories consumed with physical activity levels.
  • Avoid excessive weight gain.
  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity five or more days per week.

While a thorough explanation of the direct link between exercise and cancer prevention might be helpful, the truth is, there isn't one; at least not yet. It's not known precisely how exercise reduces the risk and incidence of cancer, but there is some interesting speculation. Scientists say exercise may enhance the action of cancer-fighting enzymes, or the activity may strengthen the body's immune system against the disease. It is also unclear whether different types of exercise affect various forms of cancer. For example, with regard to colon cancer, being active generally helps to relieve constipation, and it's believed that staying "regular" decreases our exposure to cancer-causing substances that can form in stool. There is also evidence that exercise affects the sex hormones, and that such changes decrease the risk and incidence of breast and reproductive cancers. No matter how you package it, regular exercise is bad news for cancer!

There's No Better Time Than Now.

As we age, physical activity is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can prevent a slew of chronic diseases, delay disability and enhance your overall quality of life. Depending on your current fitness level, weight or health status, you may be feeling a bit discouraged. Take heart, and remember that increasing your level of physical activity can start immediately. The human body is an amazing machine, responding positively to even gradual change. So take it easy, build a routine, have fun, and most importantly, get moving!

Julie Engebretson is a freelance writer for To Your Health. She currently resides in New York City.