In addition to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, there are other things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing and to reduce your risk for disease or illness.
Exercise offers other health benefits in addition to helping you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercise promotes good cardiovascular (heart) health, too. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. This time can be broken up over several days. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous, physical activity a week. Physical activity includes walking, jogging, swimming, biking, playing sports, etc. Include strength training and stretching along with aerobic exercise to build muscle and increase flexibility.
For additional health benefits, AICR also recommends to avoid extended periods of inactivity (e.g. watching TV or sitting at a computer). Break up your day by getting up and walking around for at least a few minutes every hour. Try setting a reminder on your phone or computer calendar.
Talk to your healthcare team before beginning any exercise plan. You may need to work up to a 150 minutes per week goal or set a goal adjusted for your needs.
Smoking increases the risk for a number of cancers including lung, oral, throat, esophageal, colorectal, and more. Smoking also increases the risk of other diseases such as heart disease. Read more about the benefits of quitting smoking and how to quit at Smoking Cessation.
Limit alcohol intake
For cancer prevention, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends not to drink alcohol. Heavy drinking or binge drinking increases your daily caloric intake as well as your risk for liver disease, pancreatitis, certain cancers, and alcohol abuse disorders. However, other studies suggest that modest amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect on heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you do choose to drink, limit consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Take care of your mental health. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Try to reduce stress by taking time to do things you enjoy such as spending time with family, spending time outdoors, or reading. If you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed to the point that you can no longer go about your daily activities, talk to your healthcare team. You may benefit from professional counseling.
Stay connected with your healthcare team
If you have finished cancer treatment, be sure to go to all follow-up appointments, even if you are feeling fine. Visit your primary care provider for annual checkups, too. Follow all recommended cancer and disease screenings. Most diseases can be treated or managed more effectively if caught early.