February 27, 2024

Men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35% by jogging, cycling or swimming a little more, a study suggests.

Improving cardiorespiratory fitness by just 3% over the course of a year was linked to a much lower chance of developing the disease. The findings prompted the researchers to encourage men to increase their fitness levels to help reduce their prostate cancer risk.

“The more intensive the activity, the lower the requirement for duration and frequency,” says study co-author Dr Kate Bolam, from the Swedish Sports School and Health Sciences in Stockholm. “Getting more muscles involved will also have greater aerobic challenge on the cardiovascular system.

“That’s why activities that involve the lower body … brisk walking or jogging, walking, activities that you are barely able to carry on a conversation while doing … or that preferably also include both arms and legs, recommended for more significant effect.

“The trick is to challenge your cardiovascular system on a regular basis so that it improves to match the demands placed on it. It can even be line dancing if it gets your heart rate up and you’re having fun.”

The study did not detail how someone could achieve a 3% increase in cardiorespiratory fitness. But Bolam said her advice would be to “think of activities that you think are enjoyable that get your heart rate up that you can add to your weekly routine”.

The Swedish study analyzed data on the physical activity levels, height and body mass index (BMI) of 57,652 men, along with information on lifestyle and perceived health, and the results of at least two cardiorespiratory fitness tests.

Annual cardiorespiratory fitness measurements were expressed by the amount of oxygen the body uses while exercising as hard as possible. The men were divided into groups depending on whether it increased by 3% each year, remained stable or decreased by 3%.

During an average follow-up period of seven years, researchers found 592 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Those whose fitness improved by 3% annually were 35% less likely to develop cancer compared to those whose fitness declined.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Simon Grieveson, assistant director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, who was not involved in the study, said: “This is an interesting piece of research that adds to previous studies showing possible links between exercise and a lower likelihood of getting prostate cancer.

“Keeping fit regularly and eating a balanced diet is good for every man’s general health and well-being – however, we do not know definitively whether physical activity can lower a man’s risk of getting or dying from prostate cancer. “

Matt Lambert, the health information and promotion manager at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “It is well known that a higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness is important for our health and longevity, but it can also be protective against certain diseases.

“This informative study adds to the evidence on how risk factors such as fitness may play a role in reducing men’s risk of prostate cancer.”

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