Strength Training and Aerobic Exercise Reduce Cancer Mortality

Researchers here note that undertaking strength training and aerobic exercise acts to reduce mortality due to cancer, to a similar degree as these activities are known to reduce all cause mortality in later life. The mechanisms involved are likely diverse, but it is worth noting that (a) muscle tissue is metabolically active in beneficial ways, such that more muscle is better than less muscle, (b) better immune function is linked to exercise, and immune surveillance is critical to cancer prevention, and (c) exercise helps to reduce chronic inflammation, where chronic inflammation helps to drive the establishment and development of tumors.

Regular muscle strengthening exercises associated with aerobic activities can reduce cancer mortality, according to a systematic review of epidemiological studies. Workouts with squats, rowing, planks, weight training and so on can reduce the probability of dying from cancer by 14%. When these exercises are combined with aerobic activities, the benefit is even greater, potentially reducing mortality by 28%.

Epidemiological research using demographic data has shown that physical activity in general reduces the risk of breast, endometrial, stomach, throat, kidney, and bladder cancer. The present study found that muscle strengthening exercises can reduce the risk of kidney cancer by 26%. Statistically significant correlations were not found between muscle strengthening exercises and tumors primarily located in the colon, prostate, lung, pancreas, bladder, esophagus, and rectum, as well as melanoma, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia and cancers of the digestive system, owing to the limited number of studies.

The study also corroborated the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding regular aerobic exercise for adults: 150-300 minutes per week if moderately intense, 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise, or an equivalent combination. The WHO also recommends twice-weekly strengthening exercises. The researchers analyzed 12 studies involving 11 cohorts and a control case, with participation by a total of 1,297,620 people, who were monitored in studies lasting between six and 25 years. The analysis suggested that strength training twice a week can protect against cancer.


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