Can Exercise Help Prevent Cancer?

You can lower your chances of getting cancer (called “cancer risk”) by moving your body throughout the day. Being physically active helps the body in many ways:

  • It helps prevent damaged cells from growing out of control or turning into cancer.
  • It increases oxygen flow throughout the body.
  • It strengthens the immune system.
  • It lowers inflammation associated with increased cancer risk.
  • It helps you keep a healthy weight. This controls the hormones that may stimulate tumor growth.
  • It increases the chances of cancer survival.
  • It helps you sleep better, have energy, and feel calm.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?

We recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week.

  • Moderate activity: Brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn
  • Vigorous activity: Running or aerobic dancing

Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Exercise that strengthens muscles (such as lifting weights) is just as important as exercise that works your heart and lungs. Talk with your doctor about the muscle strengthening and heart healthy activities that are best for you.

Ways to Stay Active

Add Movement to Daily Activities

  • Walk longer and faster.
  • Climb more stairs.
  • Bend and lift things with your full range of motion.
  • Invite friends and loved ones to exercise with you.
  • Plan family, work, or social events with physical activity in mind. Go on hikes and walks, play outdoor games, or go dancing.

Get Up When Sitting

Sitting for long periods of time can increase risk for heart disease and obesity. Obesity can lead to many chronic diseases, including cancer. Get up and move for at least 3-5 minutes every hour. Set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to get up and move.

Move Your Body More

Sitting for long periods of time can increase risk for heart disease and obesity. Obesity can lead to many chronic diseases, including cancer. Get up and move for at least 3-5 minutes every hour.

Stay Active As You Age

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.

Children should also get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

Use Your Muscles

Exercise that strengthens muscles is just as important as exercise that works your heart and lungs. Building muscle increases strength, boosts metabolism, and helps you keep a healthy weight.