We’ve long known that too much sitting, and not enough activity, can lead to obesity and diabetes—and now we can add cancer to the list. A new study presented at The American Institute for Cancer Research annual conference showed that nearly 50,000 new cases of breast cancer per year, and over 40,000 cases of colon cancer, are caused by inactivity.
What’s also important to note is that prolonged sitting, even by those people who do exercise regularly, also increases cancer risk. The researchers suggested that standing up and getting away from our desks and armchairs can reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. That’s because moving gets your circulation in motion, and reduces the build-up of cancer markers, including inflammation.
So, how can you protect yourself?
- Clip on a pedometer. Most Americans average a little over 5,100 steps per day, and less than 5,000 is considered sedentary. Compare that to the average 9,000+ steps logged by the Australians and Swiss, and it’s no wonder that our obesity rate is so high. Pedometers are a great motivator to get moving. In one study, women who began wearing a pedometer added 2,000 steps to their daily average. Begin slowly, but aim for 10,000 steps a day.
- Stand up when you’re talking on the phone. Better yet, pace the room or walk around your house as you chat.
- Set a timer as a reminder to get moving. If you’re chained to a desk at work, or prone to sitting and watching television for long periods of a time, set a timer for every 30-minutes as a reminder to get up and move for five to ten minutes.
- Purposefully add extra steps to your day. Park at the far end of the mall parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and take the long way around when walking from one place to another. Every one of these steps adds up.