I’m an active guy. Even with my crazy work schedule and busy family life, I always set aside time to exercise, whether it’s strength training, cycling around New York, or training in martial arts.
Exercise is good for my body and mind, which is why I always prescribe a good dose of regular exercise as part of all patient’s prostate cancer management.
Countless research has linked regular exercises to a bounty of health benefits, such as lowering one’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers.
So, I was not too surprised to read about a recent study from the International Journal of Epidemiology that suggests exercise may lower a man’s risk for prostate cancer.
What does the Studies Say Regarding Exercise & Prostate Cancer
Out of many studies published on the benefits of exercise for prostate cancer, this study stood out because researchers did not rely on questionnaires to measure a person’s activity level. (Questionnaires are not always accurate because people may overestimate their actual amount of exercise). Instead, they looked at men’s genetics. Researchers identified who exercised the most (and least) by measuring individual gene variations in their DNA.
In the study, scientists analyzed the DNA of almost 80,000 men with prostate cancer and approximately 61,000 without. By looking at the exercise gene variation, they found that men who were the most active had a 51% lower risk of prostate cancer compared with those who were the least active. The study looked at the effect of 22 risk factors on prostate cancer, but physical activity had the most significant impact.
The findings related to overall physical activity and did not highlight specific types of exercise or even intensity. So it may not matter what kind of training you do as long as it’s part of an ongoing healthy lifestyle.
How may exercise help fight prostate cancer? It’s likely NOT for one reason and probably has a tag-team effect. Regular activity can reduce inflammation and improve the immune system, both of which can help prevent cancer cells and even help fight them if they appear. Plus, exercise keeps weight and blood sugar levels in check, high amounts of which are common risk factors for cancer, including prostate cancer.
In my mind, exercise is the best medicine and as good, if not better, than any available drug. Not only does it offer various physical benefits, but it can provide a much needed mental boost. You feel better all-around after a vigorous, sweaty workout.
Aim to get some physical activity every day. It will soon become a habit like brushing your teeth. If life gets in the way where you can’t get it in one day, you will likely get back to it the next day.
How Much Exercise for Prostate Cancer
Get four to six hours of exercise a week. More than six hours likely offer diminishing returns as the body gets too stressed. To ensure you work hard enough, measure your intensity with a heart-rate monitor or talk test. With the talk test, you should be able to maintain a conversation, but not be able to sing as you move.
The best exercise is one that you enjoy because you are more likely to do it regularly. Still, include activities you may not (yet) love like strength training. Push and pull some weight two to three times a week. Other types of physical activity like yard work and shoveling snow counts, too.
The bottom line is to get moving. You will live longer, reduce your risk of prostate cancer, or live quite well after you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer.