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