It is a well known fact that exercise of any kind is good for you, but new research has found that cardiovascular exercise is particularly beneficial for men – and can even stave off nine different types of cancer.
The new study looked at the health data from over one million Swedish men over a 30-year timespan.
It found that men who stay fit are 40% less likely to develop head, neck, throat, stomach, lung, liver, kidney and bowel cancers later in life.
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However, it added that men with higher cardiofitness levels were 7% more likely to develop prostate cancer, and 31% more likely to develop skin cancer, the latter likely due to time spent exercising in the sun.
The study has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and looked at men who were now in their late 40s and 50s, as they were all aged between 18 and 25 when the data was first collected.
Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to a person’s ability to do aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming or even climbing stairs for sustained periods.
This kind of fitness is known to lower the risk of developing certain cancers, though few large, long-term studies of multiple cancer sites such as this have as yet been completed.
Patients with lower levels of cardio fitness were slightly more likely to be obese and more likely to have a history of substance or alcohol abuse.
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In total, 1.078 million men were studied with an average monitoring period of 33 years. Of these, around half had a moderate level or cardio fitness, while 365,000 had a low level, and 340,000 had a high level.
Of all the patients, cancer was detected in a total of 84,000 by the end of the three decades, of 6.9%.
The men with high fitness levels have a 40% lower risk of developing liver cancer later in life, and a 42% lower risk of developing lung cancer.
“This study shows that higher fitness in healthy young men is associated with a lower hazard of developing nine out of 18 investigated site-specific cancers, with the most clinically relevant hazard rates in the gastrointestinal tract,” study author Dr Aron Onerup of the University of Gothenburg Institute of Clinical Sciences in Sweden, says.
“These results could be used in public health policymaking, further strengthening the incentive for promoting interventions aimed at increasing [cardiorespiratory fitness] in youth.”
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It follows another recent large-scale study that found walking just 4,000 steps could help you live longer.
The research looked at 226,889 people from 17 studies and found people were less likely to die from all causes if they walked 3,967 steps per day. Those who walked just 2,337 steps per day decreased their risk of dying from a heart attack.
It’s a stark contrast to the regularly recommended 10,000 steps, but the study authors emphasised that the more steps you do, the larger the health benefits.
Additional reporting by SWNS.
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