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WCRF/AICR
Global Network

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2010
Contact: Mya Rae Nelson 202-328-7744

Can the Holiday Hubbub Help You
Jump-Start Your Fitness Goals?

Frenzy of Activity Around Holidays Adds Up, Say Experts

Older Couple CookingWASHINGTON, DC – If the holiday season has left you feeling so harried you haven’t had time to think about your fitness goals, experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have some good news for you: All that rushing around you’re doing right now? It adds up.

"We know that physical activity plays a key role in cancer prevention and a healthy lifestyle, but physical activity is not about running marathons," said AICR nutritionist Alice Bender, MS, RD. "It’s about incorporating activity into your day, whether that’s setting aside time to walk briskly for at least 30 minutes at a time -- or simply being active throughout the day, the way so many of us are this time of year."

Whether you realize it or not, the daily hustle and bustle of the holiday season can help you establish a more active lifestyle – and, while you’re at it, help you get a jump-start on two of the most common New Year’s resolutions: losing weight and getting more exercise.

Shopping, Cooking, Rushing Around – It All Counts as Activity

AICR’s expert report and its updates found that physical activity protects against cancers of the colorectum, breast (post-menopausal), and endometrium. Physical activity was also convincingly found to reduce the risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity, which play a central role in seven common cancers.

"Activities common during the holiday season, such as shopping, cleaning the house, dancing – they all get the body moving and can count as moderate activity," says Bender.

"For people who don’t have time right now to set aside a chunk of time to exercise, just moving more throughout the day may be enough to reach the recommended activity levels."

Are You Getting Your 30 Minutes In?

In order to meet AICR’s recommendation for cancer prevention, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. During moderate activity, heart rate increases but people can still carry on a conversation.

If your goal is to prevent weight gain or lose weight, you may need to increase either the amount or the intensity of your activity a bit more.

"Every little bit of activity counts," said Bender. "More is always better, but some is better than none at all."

How much activity are you getting?

Active Calorie Consumption
Activity
(all moderate level)
Calories
burned per 15 minutes
Playing drums
69
Playing with children
46
General house cleaning, etc.
46
Carpet Sweeping, sweeping floors
53
Moving furniture/carrying boxes
114
Packing boxes/gifts
46
Ping pong
69
Raking lawn
75
Ballroom dancing (waltz, foxtrot)
46
Dancing, fast (polka, line dancing)
80
Aerobic dancing, fast
137
Ice Skating
137
Volunteering: walking and standing
46
Walking at 2.5 mph carrying bags (e.g, shopping)
46
Carpentry, general workshop (e.g., assembling toy kits)
46

Source: MyPyramid.gov. Estimates based on a 5’7" woman weighing 150 pounds.

As well as helping avoid weight gain, physical activity itself can help to prevent cancer. Studies show that regular activity may help keep hormone levels healthy and strengthen our immune system. Activity also allows us to consume more food and more cancer-protective nutrients – without gaining weight.

AICR has launched a new awareness campaign aimed at Americans 50 and over. It’s called It’s Never Too Late to Lower Your Cancer Risk, and it provides practical, evidence-based help in getting, and staying, more active. There you’ll find AICR’s new brochure series, Simple Steps to Physical Activity, full of ideas for fitting more movement into your day.

***

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).


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