Being active for at least 30 minutes every day reduces your risk of developing some types of cancer. Fitness experts at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have designed an exclusive exercise plan based on this evidence that will fit into almost anyone's lifestyle.

"You don't need to go to a gym or do sprints every day to get your 30 to 60 minutes in," says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of behavioral science at M. D. Anderson.

Doing everyday activities can count as exercise, but only if they are done at a moderate intensity. People should be working hard enough to raise their heart rate and increase their breathing.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), being active for at least 30 minutes every day is proven to lower your risks for breast, endometrial and colon cancers. Doing 60 minutes is even better.

Physical activity may protect against cancer because it lowers body fat, lowers hormone levels that raise breast and endometrial cancer risks, and keeps the digestive system working well to reduce colon cancer risks.

"Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight," says Basen-Engquist. "And maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your chances for some types of cancer."

M. D. Anderson's seven-day exercise plan combines everyday activities with cardio and strength training to help beginner and advanced exercisers maintain a healthy weight.

Cardio isn't the only thing that counts

The AICR recommends doing activities every day that increase the heart rate and strength training, like weight lifting, three times a week.

"Making your entire body strong by lifting weights is a great complement to doing cardio," Basen-Engquist says. "Be sure to work the major muscle groups throughout your body each week."

Strength training can prevent muscle loss, build bone density and increase the rate that the body burns calories. Individuals should always take the time to stretch the muscles. Stretching the legs, arms and back will help with soreness. It also will help prevent muscle tears and injuries.

Set yourself up for success

An important part of achieving success is starting slow. For those who haven't worked out in a while or are new to exercise, gradually work up to exercising for 30 minutes. Try exercising in 10-minute bouts throughout the day. Studies suggest this approach may be as good as 30 continuous minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

After making it to 30 minutes, increase exercise time to 60 minutes a day or rev up the intensity of the 30-minute workout.

M. D. Anderson's tailored exercise plan and videos include options for the beginner and those at a higher level of fitness.

Exercise is most effective if done properly, so check out the proper techniques at mdanderson/focused.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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