The benefits of physical activity when you have prostate cancer

Being physically active during and after prostate cancer treatment has many benefits. Adding more movement to your daily routine can give you more stamina, help you feel energized, and it can even help reduce the side effects of treatment.
There are different types of physical activity:

Everyday activity

  • active travel (walking, cycling)

  • house work (cleaning, vacuuming, doing the washing)

  • yard work (mowing the lawn, weeding, pruning)

  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator

Active recreation (mainly done for enjoyment but still exercise)

  • golf

  • skiing

  • surfing

  • walking or cycling for fun

  • dancing

Exercise (mainly done to improve physical fitness)

  • brisk walking or jogging (aerobic exercise)

  • lifting weights (resistance exercise)

  • stretching (flexibility exercise)

  • yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates

What's the risk of physical inactivity? Why should I move more?

When you spend time sitting, like watching TV at home or using your computer at work, that's called "inactivity."

Inactivity really means the time you spend sitting. Too much sitting is different from too little exercise. Even if you exercise regularly, it’s important to think about spending less time being inactive. When we move, our body sends signals that keep our muscles and bones healthy.

If we don’t move, the loss of muscle and bone that comes with aging happens faster. This is the so-called “use it or lose it” principle.

Being inactive has risks

Spending more time sitting increases your risk of:

• obesity (having too much body fat)

• diabetes

• heart disease

• other chronic conditions

Being inactive may also affect prostate cancer.

One large study found that for every extra hour of sitting, men were 16% more likely to have an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. The higher the PSA level, the higher the chance of getting prostate cancer.

Moving more
has benefits

Our bodies were designed for movement. Studies show that when people stand up and move, they have:

• healthier cholesterol levels

• healthier blood sugar levels

Studies also show that people who are active for more than one hour a day have a 40% lower risk of dying early. That’s compared to people who exercise less than 30 minutes a week.

Experts say to aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is about 20 to 30 minutes a day. Aim for different levels of intensity, ranging from a brisk walk (moderate intensity) to something like swimming (vigorous intensity). This level of activity reduces the risk of many chronic illnesses, including:

• other cancers

• heart disease

• diabetes

How can I start being
more physically active?

To start, here are some tips for cutting back on the time you spend sitting:

  • Stand up while using your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Or set a timer and get up to move or stretch for a few minutes every 30 minutes.

  • Move around when talking on the phone.

  • March in place, repeatedly stand up and sit down, or walk in a circle during commercials or while watching TV.

  • Fidget - people who fidget (like tapping your foot or bouncing your leg while sitting) are more likely to maintain a normal weight than people who stay very still.

When you're ready, try working more activity into your life:

  • Go for a 10-minute walk. Increase your time by one minute every week or two. Continue adding minutes until you work your way up to 30 minutes a day. If you don't have that much time, try walking a little faster for one minute at a time. Then return to your regular pace, switching between speeds for the rest of the time that you have.

  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator if you're able.

  • Avoid using tools that limit your need to move. Use a push mower to mow the lawn. Use a rake to rake the leaves.

  • Walk to the shops instead of driving. If you do drive, park further away to get in a few more steps.

  • Plan recreational activities with family, friends, or neighbours, like a friendly game of soccer or football.

  • If you golf, walk and push or carry your clubs instead of using a cart.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on The benefits of physical activity when you have prostate cancer, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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