There are many ways that we can help ourselves, and even prepare ourselves for winter, and even hopefully avoid getting sick, or help ourselves to recover much sooner and ultimately make long-term healthy lifestyle changes. One of the best ways is to include exercise in your daily routine. A 30-minute workout will release feel-good hormones or de-stressing brain chemicals which help us ease depression and give us more energy.
Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected and supported by healthy lifestyle choices, so following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and reduce your risk of illnesses including cancer (especially bowel, endometrial, and post-menopausal breast cancers), heart disease and diabetes. It also assists in maintaining and improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as maintaining a healthy body weight. In fact, scientific evidence suggests the more physical activity, the better.
Research now suggests that 60 minutes or more of moderate activity (like brisk walking, mowing the lawn or medium-paced swimming) or 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity (like aerobics, jogging or fast cycling) daily may be the very best to reduce your risk of cancer. Research also recommends that you do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days each week. And, of course, this is what we do best at Curves Charlestown!
Exercise gets your blood pumping, and immune cells circulating through your body more quickly, helping them seek and destroy infections. But this boost only lasts for a few hours, so exercise needs to be regular for long-term effects.
During the colder months, we generally turn to comfort food. Typically, we gain up to 4 kg, and it’s now known that being overweight significantly increases your risk of 11 different types of cancer. These include breast (post-menopause), bowel, kidney, liver, endometrial, ovarian, stomach, oesophagus, gallbladder, pancreas and prostate (advanced) cancers. Evidence now shows that being overweight or obese is the cause of nearly 4,000 cancer cases in Australia each year.
Excess body weight increases insulin resistance, which leads to the pancreas producing more insulin. Elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 can promote the growth of cancer cells. Excess body weight can also increase sex steroid hormones, which are linked to endometrial and post-menopause breast cancer.
Processed foods, sweets, foods made with highly refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause spikes in blood sugar leading to early hunger. High blood sugar is linked to the development of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even dementia. The best way to get to a healthy weight (and stay there) are to:
Limit the portion size of your meals and snacks
Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain and high-fibre foods
Cut out unhealthy snacks and replace with nuts, fruit, yoghurt or cheese
Swap sugary drinks for water
Include fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon as well as some dairy products, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver orange juice, soy milk, and cereals to boost Vitamin D levels
For breakfast, add fruit and yoghurt to wholegrain cereal or serve some veggies with your eggs and toast
Drink alcohol in moderation (an average of no more than two standard drinks a day and avoid binge drinking - more than four standard drinks in one session).
All of this can help to reduce inflammation, which can damage tissue, joints, artery walls, and organs and if you’ve had cancer, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent it from coming back.
If you think your weight may be putting you at risk, then pop into Curves Charlestown for a chat. At Curves Charlestown, we provide a warm and caring environment, with a coach always on hand. Our service includes a Monthly Coaching Session where, together, we focus on and create a strategy for what is important to you. Check out our monthly specials on page 8 – and see you on the Circuit! For more information about the links between physical activity and cancer prevention visit www.cancercouncil.com.au