Many find daily physical activity a chore, despite evidence that exercise can reduce bowel cancer risk and is essential during and after any cancer treatment, to assist in managing side effects and improve quality of life.
To help, we've put together a list of simple strategies and practical tips based on findings from an investigation looking at the successful habits of more than 14,000 men and women in the UK aged 40 to 79.
Begin with the end in mind. Remember, the goal is to find a way to be active and stay active – for the long term. That will be far easier when exercise meets your individual preferences, rather than appearing on your ‘to do’ list alongside the laundry and putting out the trash.
Make it meaningful – to you. If you enjoy quiet time, choose an activity that offers you a chance to be in a quiet space, like yoga or a nature walk. If you get energy from music and movement, check out a dance class or go for a run while listening to your favourite beats.
Make it easy. Build activity into your daily routine. You don’t have to run marathons or go on long hikes to achieve 30 minutes of daily activity. Every little bit counts. Take the stairs when you can and get off public transportation one stop earlier.
Make it a date. Evidence suggests new habits are easier to form with at least one other person. Commit to someone that you’ll meet with them to exercise regularly and hold each other to it. If you don’t know anyone who is keen, consider joining a class where you can meet new people interested in getting active.
Walk and talk. For many of us, there’s limited time in the day to do everything we want to get done, which is why exercise often gets neglected. For others, making time to connect with friends or family may be the thing that suffers. Why not try to combine being active with being social, by having a friend or family member join you while you exercise? If that’s geographically not possible, grab the mobile phone and call them while walking.
Sharpen your mind and strengthen your body. For many people, another activity that is often neglected is reading or catching up on the latest news. With the help of technology, you can combine your favourite exercise with your favourite podcast or radio news and catch up on both at the same time.
- Never give up. Even after researchers adjusted for factors like smoking, alcohol, weight and diet quality, people who had a sedentary job and did no leisure-time physical activity, but then increased physical activity in the next few years, had significantly fewer deaths over the next 12 to 13 years than those who continued a sedentary lifestyle. These findings didn’t change based on whether someone had a history of heart disease or cancer at the start of the study. So, if you fall off the treadmill, the key thing is to get back up again.
No one knows exactly why some people develop bowel cancer and others don't, but you can make choices and take steps which have been shown to help reduce your risk.
Research shows that remaining physically active is one way of reducing the risk of developing potentially cancerous polyps; lifestyle choices, including bowel cancer screening and surveillance, can also reduce your bowel cancer risk, as can dietary choices.
Consuming just 50g of processed meat each day increases bowel cancer risk by 18%; eating 100g of red meat each day increases a person's risk of developing bowel cancer by 17%.
Bowel Cancer Australia's annual Meat Free Week campaign provides a great opportunity to get people thinking about how much meat they eat and the impact eating too much meat can have on their health.
Meat Free Week - Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.
Meat Free Week (23 - 29 September 2019) challenges participants to give up meat for seven days and raise funds for Bowel Cancer Australia.
Celebrating its seventh year, everyone is invited to take the Meat Free Week challenge and discover how easy it is to make little changes that can create a big difference.
Delicious recipes are just the start.
Further details, delicious meat-free recipe ideas, and helpful resources are also available on the dedicated campaign website meatfreeweek.org.