Beat Cancer With a Walk Around the Block
Beat Cancer With a Walk Around the Block
You’ve heard me use the term “lifestyle medicine” before.
But today, I want to share some research that paints a striking picture of what this phrase really means... why it’s the lifeblood of my urology practice... and why more American doctors need to put down their prescription pads and get with the program.
As part of this brand new study, researchers analyzed the health and activity levels of nearly 5,000 Swedish men who received an early-stage prostate cancer diagnosis between 1997 and 2002. And they hit on an unmistakable association.
Guys who walked or biked for at least 20 minutes every day in the years following their diagnosis were 39% less likely to die of prostate cancer. And they were 30% less likely to die from any cause at all.
These results held across the board — it didn’t matter what kind of prostate cancer treatment these guys were getting. And although the study didn’t look at men with more aggressive forms of the disease, there’s obviously a strong message here...
And considering the fact that nearly a quarter million men are going to be diagnosed with prostate cancer every year — and that most of these guys are dealing with slow-growing, localized disease — this (literal) call to action should be crystal clear.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. When you have prostate cancer, the choices you make can kill you... or they can keep you alive.
This isn’t the first study to reveal a rock solid link between exercise and prostate cancer survivorship. And it’s not the first study to link regular physical activity to a reduced risk of dying from any type of cancer, either.
Let’s just say there’s a reason why routine workouts are a non-negotiable cornerstone of my cancer treatment protocols.
And yes, I give my prostate cancer patients a very specific exercise “prescription.” Because like any other medicine, physical activity is dosage-dependent. (And as I explained last month, more isn’t always better.)
Three hours weekly of moderate-intensity exercise — that’s what I ask my guys to commit to. If you do the math, that’s less than 30 minutes daily of brisk walking, cycling, or golf (minus the cart). No backbreaking stuff, here. Just enough to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. You could manage it just by cracking your bike out of the garage for an hour a few times a week.
But there’s one more thing I want you to do.
A lot of guys assume that keeping a regular workout schedule makes up for the rest of the time that they spend sitting on the couch watching Sports Center or hunched over a desk at work. And unfortunately, the research is clear on this matter: It doesn’t.
One recent study from the American Cancer Society showed that men who sit more than six hours a day are almost 50% more likely to die than their more active counterparts. (Here’s an eye-opening infographic just to drive this point home. “Sitting disease” is a real and very deadly thing — and you need to take it seriously.)
So on top of those three hours a week, I also want you to take at least 8,000 steps a day. Park farther away, take the stairs, squeeze in a walk around the office or your block whenever you can. Pedometers or fitness bands are a great way to keep track. (I got a Nike Fuel band for Father’s Day several years ago now — and let me tell you, these things keep you on your toes. Literally.)
Whatever you do, just get up and get moving. Because I’ve said it before, but the point bears repeating: It’s a matter of life and death. Don’t send yourself packing any sooner than you have to. Not when the secret to staying in the game is so simple.
Stay tuned and stay well,
Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, C.N.S., is a renowned naturopathic doctor recognized as an authority in integrative management of male and urological conditions. Dr. Geo is the founder and director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), a center of excellence in research and integrative treatments for urological conditions.
Bonn SE, et al. “Physical Activity and Survival among Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Dec 19.
Patel AV, et al. “Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults.” Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Aug 15;172(4):419-29.