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Physical activity, exercise and cancer

Physical activity is crucial in schoolsBeing physically active isn't just good for your heart - research has shown that it can also reduce the risk of developing breast, bowel or womb cancer. Keeping active could help to prevent around 3,400 cases of cancer every year in the UK.

The Government recommends that adults should aim to do at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate activity every week - but you can break that down into smaller chunks if that makes it easier for you to stick to. For example, try doing half an hour a day, five days a week. Even 10 minutes at a time can count, and the more active you are, the more benefit you can get.

There's no need to join a gym or train for a marathon, unless you want to. Moderate activity includes anything that gets you a little bit warm and out of breath. Brisk walking, gardening, dancing and even housework are all great ways to be more active.

Making small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the lift or making short journeys on foot, can really help you increase how active you are. And it's never too late to start making a difference. Even if you've been inactive for years, becoming more active now can improve your health and reduce the risk of cancer.

Activity and weight

Being physically active, along with a healthy, balanced diet, can also help you manage your weight. And keeping to a healthy weight is another great way to reduce the risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

But physical activity has benefits above and beyond weight control, and it doesn't only reduce the risk of cancer through its effects on weight.

You can find out more about how physical activity reduces the risk of cancer on our other pages.

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Updated: 30 October 2014