Beating cancer with exercise


Our supporters are often contacting us to tell us about the value they place in our guiding aim of ‘stopping cancer before it starts’ – and the ways they’ve adapted their diet and lifestyle to reduce their risk of cancer.

As WCRF UK’s Executive Director, I recently received a letter from Handley Barrett who was diagnosed with lymphoma a year ago. Handley, an 84-year-old former sailor, has thankfully recovered now – a swift improvement that he puts down to the regular exercise he takes around his home in Roseisle, near Inverness. He has also led an active life, with a 17-year career in the Royal Navy and then five years as an outward-bound instructor and 22 years as a teacher.

His example is one we could all take on board – no matter our age – to help protect us against poor health and help aid our recovery should we fall ill.

As he wrote so eloquently in his letter: “As I see it, if one looks at a mountain stream, the water rushes down it and no plants get a chance to settle and grow on the banks. However, it is only when streams at a far lower altitude chug along that seeds get the opportunity to embed themselves and settle in the banks that plants get a chance to grow.

“So it’s the same with the blood in our veins and arteries – static, non-active folk leave themselves open, unwittingly, to the growth of undesirables in their bloodstreams whilst exercisers provide the resistance to such venom!”

Physical activity is one of the cornerstones of protecting against getting cancer and is one of the 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention that we advise. We recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. This can be any kind of activity that raises your heart rate and breathing and can be spread throughout the day (ie three ten-minute walks).

The other vital aspects of cancer prevention focus on diet and maintaining a healthy body weight – eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains and avoiding energy-dense food and drink, and staying as slim as possible without being underweight.


One thought on “Beating cancer with exercise”

  1. How does a person measure the change in their immune system? Physical activity and a decent diet doesn’t seem to have helped me. In March 2010 I had a cancerous prostate removed along with a lot of other tissue. In February 2013 a PSA test showed the cancer had returned. RR

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