There are many causes of cancer; genetics, environment and lifestyle being the main ones. But there are things that you can do to reduce the risks of getting cancer. These include a good balanced diet, reducing risk factors, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, and exercise.

There is evidence to suggest that regular exercise may reduce the risks of getting colon, breast, lung, prostate and endometrial cancer. In fact, studies have shown that exercising every day can reduce the risk of getting colon cancer by up to 40%, regardless of whether you are overweight.

The American Cancer Society suggests doing light to heavy exercise 5 times a week for half an hour to reduce the likelihood of getting cancer.  And you don’t have to do it all in one go, as long as for at least half an hour a day you do something that makes you a little out of breath.

jogging pic

So what can you do? If you are looking to make changes in your life and don’t currently do any exercise then we don’t suggest you go out tomorrow and run a marathon! Joining the gym is a great way to get started but you may not fancy it; you may feel self-conscious or just find it boring!

Here are a few forms of exercise you could fit into your day:


…..At work: If you get the bus or train to work get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Try to reduce the time the walk takes you so that you get gradually faster. If you can, go for a walk in your lunch break, trying to gradually increase your speed over time. Ask a colleague to join you, which will give you a chance to chat outside of work and someone to motivate you to walk regularly. Or walk by yourself with headphones or an audio book, giving you time out of your day, fresh air and disease-beating exercise.

……. At home: Walk with friends or by yourself. Set a distance that you can cover easily in half an hour and gradually increase how far you go, and how long you walk for. If you can talk easily then up the pace a bit! If you have children or grandchildren at home make it an outing. It’s great for kids to get exercise too.


Dancing is fun and great exercise. Join a dance class or dance at home, dance with friends, or by yourself. The thirty minutes will fly by and you’re sure to be out of breath for most of them! There are so many different dance classes, games, DVDs and dance-based exercise classes that if you enjoy music you will definitely find a form of dance-ercise right for you.

Team sports

The great thing about team sports is that you get to socialize while keeping fit. Most areas will have some kind of organized sport; football, soccer, volleyball or basketball. You don’t have to be a pro and lots of groups are not competitive but simply meet to keep fit and because they enjoy playing the game. Have a look at the teams local to you and try them out. If the first one or two aren’t for you, don’t give up! You could even organize a sport yourself with a group of friends and colleagues.


Swimming is a great, low impact sport, which means that it puts minimum stress on your joints while working most muscle groups in your body. Go swimming by yourself or with friends or your kids. Set yourself a challenge to complete a certain number of lengths within thirty minutes, increasing the lengths as you get fitter.

Go to classes

Most gyms and recreation centers have exercise classes, from yoga to step to boxercise. They allow you to try different forms of exercise without actually joining the gym. Write a list of the different classes that you think you might enjoy and set yourself a challenge to visit one a week until you find a class you love.

The key to exercise is variety

Taking part in a variety of exercises throughout the week means that you are using different muscles in your body, helping you to get as fit as possible.

We’ve given you five different types of exercise, one for each weekday! And of course there are lots of forms of exercise that we haven’t mentioned, like yoga, tai chi and even ice-skating! As long as you are out of breath, it counts. Remember to take it easy and persevere; if the first few activities you try aren’t fun for you, then keep going until you find one you enjoy. If you can’t find a whole half hour or hour in your day for exercise then break it up into 10 minute segments.

Remember, it’s not just about weight; even people with a BMI of less than 25 are at higher risk of some cancers if they don’t exercise. Regular exercise will make you look and feel better as well as improving your health.