Less than 25 minutes of exercise a day could help ward off cancer, study finds

Working out reduced the risk of seven forms of cancer (Picture: Ella Byworth for

A new study has found that exercising for less than 25 minutes a day could be key to warding off cancer.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society found that two and a half hours of exercise per week could lower the risk of seven forms of cancer – including breast, colon and kidney cancer.

The study, which was run alongside Harvard University, pooled data from 750,000 participants, who were measured on the amount of physical activity that they took on their leisure time.

The team then tracked the participants to see whether they developed any form of the disease.

Findings showed that the risk of seven out of the 15 cancers they studied reduced significantly when people exercised for the recommended amount of time of two and a half hours.

The people who exercised more than 25 minutes per day also had an increasingly lower risk of developing cancer.

‘While it’s long been known that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of several cancers, less clear has been the shape of the relationship and whether recommended amounts of physical activity are associated with lower risk,’ said Dr Alpa Patel from the American Cancer Society.

‘These findings provide direct quantitative support for the levels of activity recommended for cancer prevention and provide actionable evidence for ongoing and future cancer prevention efforts.’

Those who stuck to the lower bands of exercise demonstrated the following reduction in cancer risk:

  • Male colon cancer 8%
  • Female breast cancer 6%
  • Endometrial cancer 10%
  • Kidney cancer 11%
  • Myeloma (a type of blood cancer) 14%
  • Liver cancer 18%
  • Female non-Hodgkin lymphoma 11%

Those who exercised even more than the recommended time saw an additional 9% reduction in their cancer risk.

The researchers said that their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, provide evidence to support cancer prevention methods.

Dr Patel added: ‘Physical activity guidelines have largely been based on their impact on chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

‘These data provide strong support that these recommended levels are important to cancer prevention, as well.’

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