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Moving more and sitting less leads to healthier aging

A new study from the American Cancer Society confirms that older adults can greatly improve their quality of life by staying active. The researchers report that even moderate levels of physical activity are associated with healthier aging, and cancer survivors are no exception. 

There are nearly 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States, and previous studies have shown that exercise may help reduce the risk of recurrence. Furthermore, exercise is known for a range of benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and boosting energy. 

A team led by Dr. Erika Rees-Punia set out to investigate the connection between physical activity and healthier aging. The study was focused on nearly 78,000 participants in the ACS’s Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, including cancer survivors and cancer-free adults with an average age of 78.

The analysis showed that regardless of cancer history, there were substantial improvements in the mental and physical health of the most active participants.

The most recent ACS physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, while limiting sedentary behaviors such as screen time.

“The findings reinforce the importance of moving more and sitting less for both physical and mental health, no matter your age or history of cancer,” said Dr. Rees-Punia.

“This is especially relevant now as so many of us, particularly cancer survivors, may be staying home to avoid COVID-19 exposure, and may be feeling a little isolated or down. A simple walk or other physical activity that you enjoy may be good for your mind and body.”

The study is published in the journal Cancer.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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