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5 Hours of Cycling per Week Could Help Prevent Cancer

By Jiri Kaloc

A recent study shows that many cancer cases could be prevented if people met the recommended 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Could cycling be the answer? Which types of cancer are influenced by physical activity the most?

A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows 3% of all cancer cases in adults in the United States aged 30 years and older were attributable to physical inactivity. That’s 46,000 cancer cases preventable cases every year!

Only 28% of Europeans exercise more than 5 hours per week

The results of this new study apply as much to Europe as they do to the US. Based on data published by Eurostat, only 28% of residents of the European Union meet the recommended 5 hours of moderate exercise per week. Another 17% exercise 3-5 hours, 27% exercise between 0-3 hours, and 28% do not exercise at all! The situation is worst in states such as Portugal and Croatia where only 45% and 36% respectively exercise. On the other hand, Romania, Denmark, and the Netherlands are doing well with 96%, 93%, and 91% respectively.

Some cancer types have a closer connection to inactivity

The study looked at the relationship between activity and different types of cancer. Data show that some cancers, such as stomach cancer, had a closer connection to lack of exercise than others. Here is how many cancer cases were attributable to lack of exercise based on cancer location.

  • 16.9% of stomach cancer
  • 11.9% of endometrial cancer
  • 11.0% of kidney cancer
  • 9.3% of colon cancer
  • 8.1% of oesophageal cancer
  • 6.5% of female breast cancer
  • 3.9% of urinary bladder cancer

There are barriers to exercise

This data clearly shows the importance of physical activity. Unfortunately, for many people, there are significant barriers to recreational physical activity. These are among the most common.

  • Lack of time due to long working hours in low-wage jobs.
  • The cost of gym memberships or personal equipment.
  • Lack of access to a safe environment in which to be active.
  • Potential childcare costs involved with recreational physical activity.

“These findings underscore the need to encourage physical activity as a means of cancer prevention and implement individual and community-level interventions that address the various behavioural and socioeconomic barriers to recreational physical activity. Understanding and reducing the behavioural and socioeconomic barriers to physical activity is essential for optimising intervention strategies targeting at-risk groups across the country,” discussed the authors.

Cycling as a solution

Cycling is one of the best options to overcoming barriers to exercise. It’s easy to meet the target of 5 hours of moderate activity per week when cycling. And it can often be used for commuting, which solves many of the time barriers. Sure, there is some initial cost when buying a bicycle but there are no regular membership fees to keep up with. And the whole family can take part!