Physical activity extends lives, reduces cancer risk
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Even mild physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, regardless of body weight. According to a recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute, people who engaged in leisure time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years. “Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for yourself to stay healthy,” says Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Texas A& M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health and a leading researcher in cancer survivorship and aging. “Yet, today only about 31 percent of U.S. adults say they engage in any kind of regular physical activity.” When it comes to practical tips for moving more, we’ve all heard to “take the stairs, not the elevator.” According to Dr. Ory, it’s still good advice, but there are many more ways to get physically active breaks in your day:
• Buzz me active – Set a timer on your phone or your computer to remind you every 40- 60 minutes that it’s time to stand up, stretch and take a brief walk, outside if possible.
• Walk with me – Need to have a quick chat with a family member or a coworker? Instead of sending a text or an email, suggest going for a walk.
• Stand to talk – Standing desks are great, but if you don’t have one, you can always stand up every time you answer the phone. If the cord is long enough or you have a speakerphone, you can walk around, do deep knee bends and stretch while talking on the phone.
• Stay webinar fit – Hour-long webinars are great times for stretch breaks. You can attend to business while stretching or using weights. Keep a flexibility stretch band or a pair of hand weights at your desk for use during webinars and long conference calls.
• Park to walk – When you are shopping or at an off-site meeting, park your car at the furthest edge of the lot. Enjoy the opportunity for an outdoor physical activity break. “Think of exercise as medicine,” Dr. Ory says. “Regular exercise can reduce the need for medications and costly health care treatments. There are many different types of exercise, chose one that you enjoy – this will help you stay active for life.”