Get active

Younger man on a bicycle

You probably know you should be more active, but it's not just for the sake of your heart and lungs.

Studies show that men who follow a healthy lifestyle, which includes being physically active, are 18% less likely to develop cancer. In addition, being active also helps you to control your weight. And keeping a healthy weight is an important way to reduce your risk of many cancers.

Being active will also help you to:

  • Reduce high blood pressure.
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
  • Improve mood and energy levels.
  • Increase fitness and strength.
  • Improve muscles.
  • Reduce your risk of bowel cancer and possibly lung and prostate cancers.

For cancer survivors, it is also important to note that being physically active can reduce the risk of the cancer coming back again.

How active do I need to be?

Doing at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5 or more days a week will reduce your risk of a number of cancers. If you are already active for 30 minutes a day, you could step up your effort and cut your chances even more. It doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective.

Anything that makes you breathe a little deeper and your heart beat a little faster is ideal. However, more vigorous activity does offer additional benefits. This is the type of activity that will cause you to huff and puff, and make holding a conversation difficult.

Tips for getting fit

  • Start with what you can manage - If you’re out of shape or unfit, start by walking or doing another gentle exercise.
  • Increase your level of activity as you get fitter - Set new goals to keep building your level of activity as you get fitter.
  • Stay safe - See your doctor for advice if you are very overweight or have medical problems.
  • Stand more, sit less - Avoid too much time sitting or lying down, for example, watching TV.
  • Be active in your everyday life - You don’t have to join a gym:
    • Walk or cycle instead of driving.
    • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
    • Play an active game with your kids.
  • Get fit with friends or family - Having company can make exercise more fun. Plus you can encourage each other if you’re feeling lazy.

Remember, you do not have to do 30 minutes of activity all at once to be healthy. Instead, you can spread small bursts of activity out over the course of the day. 

Exercise your options

To get on track and stay on track, you should try different types of exercises and activities. The Pyramid below gives examples of different kinds of physical activity.

For more information on getting active and managing your weight, see Get Ireland Active. You can also download the Get Ireland Active app. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Friday, June 2, 2017