It is no secret that frequent exercise and daily physical activity is good for your health. Exercise can help with weight control, mental health, and is overall good for the soul. Along with all the commonly known health benefits of regular fitness, it has now been found that those with high fitness levels are linked to a decrease in cancer risk.

A New Study

A new study has found a link between high fitness levels and a decrease in cancer risk. The study was conducted by a research team at Johns Hopkins University and the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan. Data was gathered between 1991 and 2009 from 70,000 people who were referred to by their doctor for treadmill testing. With such a large amount of time and number of participants, they were able to gather a pretty accurate measure of cardiorespiratory fitness.

The Data

During the study, researchers gathered the data of 49,143 patients and searched for individuals who were between the ages of 40 and 70, and with diagnoses of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. This led them to 388 patients with lung cancer and 220 patients with colorectal cancer. The patients were then separated into four groups based on fitness level. Once other risk factors such as gender or age were adjusted, it was found that the patients of the highest level fitness group were 77% less likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer. Their risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer was also  61% less due to their high fitness level.

For patients who were diagnosed with cancer, the study showed patients with a higher level of fitness were less likely to die during the follow-up period of the study. Patients who were in the highest level fitness group who were diagnosed with lung cancer or colorectal cancer were 44% and 89% less likely to die during the study period compared to those in the least fit group.

What it Means

Although the data gives hope and promise that the high levels of fitness can help decrease the risk of cancer, it’s important to fully understand what this could mean. For one, researchers are unsure of exactly why high levels of fitness lower the chances of cancer. These possibilities range from reductions in systemic inflammation, a stronger immune system, to decreased bowel time.

Overall, there is solid evidence to show that fitness lowers a person’s risk of cancer. It’s important for everyone to get in their daily exercise to keep themselves at peak health.