Exercise and preventing cancer: Guidelines from the American Cancer Society


Exercise and preventing cancer: Guidelines from the American Cancer Society


The American Cancer Society (ACS) released guidelines for physical activity and exercise to assist in the prevention of cancer. Below is a summary of the recommendations:

Benefits of Physical activity:

  • may reduce risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial and prostate cancer and possibly pancreatic cancer
  • maintains a healthy body weight by balancing caloric intake and expenditure
  • mechanisms include: regulating sex hormones, insulin, prostaglandins, and beneficial effects on the immune system
  • beneficial even when initiated later in life


Physical activity guidelines:

  • adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, spread throughout the week
  • children and adolescents should engage in at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week
  • limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or other forms of screen-based entertainment
  • do some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one's level of activity
  • evidence suggests higher amounts of physical activity may provide even greater reductions in cancer risk
  • approaching and exceeding 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week is likely to provide additional protection against cancer
  • men aged 40 years and older, women aged 50 years and older and those with chronic disease should consult a physician before beginning vigorous physical activity programs.
  • warm up and cool down periods before and after activity reduces risk of musculoskeletal injuries and soreness.


Reference: Kushi L et al. American cancer society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A cancer journal for clinicians. 2012. 62:1; 30-67

Access the full guidelines here


MARCH 6, 2017

George Cho