Wellness: Exercise and Eat Healthy to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Laura Akgerman Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility

April is time for planting crops, enjoying spring flowers, and planning your garden. The weather is warmer, it’s a treat to go outside for a walk, and all of your New Year’s health resolutions seem attainable. There are many reasons to exercise and eat healthy: it’s nice to be outside and active, you feel better, you may lose some weight, and you want to impress your doctor at your next checkup. Being active and healthy can increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.

 In 2016 President Obama proclaimed April as National Cancer Control Month, and asked all Americans “to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent and control cancer.” It’s a great idea, but do you know where to start? The American Cancer Society (ACS) has a Stay Healthy page with tips on exercise, sun safety, healthy eating, how to quit smoking, and cancer screenings at the (ACS) website, cancer.org  

Exercise to reduce your risk of cancer. Physical activity not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it can help improve your immune system, and it reduces your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. Adults should get moderate exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Not sure how hard you have to exercise to get health benefits? Moderate exercise should make you breathe as hard as you would if you were walking briskly. You also need to limit the time you spend sitting or lying down, 150 minutes of moderate exercise cannot cancel out hours and hours of not being active. For more information about exercise and cancer, Get Active at the ACS website.

Healthy eating can reduce your risk of cancer. Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and protein, and limit fried or processed foods. Easy to say, hard to do. Most of us are very busy, with little time to prepare three healthy meals a day. Planning your meals for the week, and cutting up enough vegetables and fruit for several days makes healthy eating much easier. Take a few hours on the weekend to plan your menu for the week. Choose recipes that make good leftovers, prepare the ingredients, cut up vegetables and fruit, and you can eat healthy lunches and dinners, with minimal cooking, all week. While you are prepping your meals, you can also cook a big batch of soup, all you need is low sodium or no salt added broth, vegetables, canned beans, a whole grain or whole wheat pasta, a little meat and seasoning, and you may never eat canned soup again! For healthy snacks and meals, see Dashboard Dining at the ACS website. 

Ohio State University Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences offers an online Dining with Diabetes: Beyond the Kitchen program that helps you make healthy food choices at restaurants, and offers advice on meal planning and preparation. The program is a great resource for anyone who wants to eat healthy, not just for people with diabetes.

For more information about Ohio AgrAbility visit https://agrability.osu.edu/ or contact Laura Akgerman, Ohio AgrAbility & OSU Extension Disability Services Coordinator, at Akgerman.4@osu.edu, or 614-292-0622.