PREVENTING CANCER THROUGH STRENGTH TRAINING

Why is it that when someone’s kidneys stop functioning correctly, they are hospitalized and receive a ton of treatment but yet when we can’t do a push-up or a squat no one bats an eye? Muscles are organs and when we can’t perform simple tasks such as a push-up, we should also consider that a form or organ failure. A study published in 2021 in Men’s Health showed that, “more than half of Americans are incapable of performing 10 consecutive pushups, and that more than a third cannot even do 5 pushups in a row.” Dr. Ryan Chow, a physical therapist at Reload PT in New York stated on a recent podcast that, “the greatest health need today in society is strength training.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. We’re becoming a weak and fragile society and it’s leading to an increase in chronic diseases, many of which are preventable through exercise and strength training. However, there’s one disease that can help be prevented through strength training that stands out to me, and that’s cancer.


“Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2018, there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.5 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.” But yet can be prevented to an extent through strength training and exercise.


But why should we choose strength training and not a different form of exercise?


Most of the time we read that we should exercise in general to stay healthy, but we are never guided on the type of exercise or how we should go about doing it. Through research, we now understand that we should be focusing on strength training. A post by the National Foundation for Cancer Research showed that “strength training is more effective at prolonging life than cardio workouts.” They also found that “strength training twice a week reduced the likelihood of dying from cancer by 31%” and “the overall likelihood for any type of premature death decreased by 23%.” With evidence like this we need to do a better job of promoting strength training to everyone.


How can you start strength training?


Many people think they need to be a member at a gym or think they need a lot of expensive equipment when really you don’t need either. You can be effective with basic bodyweight exercises. Here are some of my favorite exercises to get you started:

  • Upper Body

  • Push-ups

  • Incline/decline Push-ups

  • Dips

  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups


  • Lower Body

  • Body weight squats

  • Lunges

  • Split squats

  • Jump squats

  • Romanian deadlifts

  • Glute bridges


  • Core

  • Planks

  • Side planks

  • Russian twists

  • Crunches

  • Toe touches


These are only a few of the countless strength exercises you can do so don’t feel like you’re stuck with these. I encourage you to research and find more exercises or variations to try or even reach out to me and I would love to help you on your journey.


Now that we have a couple of exercises, how do we turn them in to a workout?


I would suggest picking about four to six exercises, or about two from each category to put in a workout. So, let’s say we pick push-ups, dips, squats, glute bridges and planks. Our workout for the day might look like this:


Example Workout

  1. Push-ups: 3 sets of 8

2. Dips: 3 sets of 10

3. Squats: 3 sets of 12

4. Glute Bridges: 2 sets of 12

5. Planks: 3 sets of 30 seconds


The sets and reps are just examples. You can play around with them and do more or less, whatever feels right to you!


The main goal with these is to pick exercises that you enjoy and that challenge you, but you are still able to perform. If the exercises are too easy, then you may not be doing enough to make a change. On the other hand, if the exercises are too hard you may be doing too much and you may also have a harder time sticking with them.


How often should we be strength training?


The CDC recommends that the average adult does strength training two days a week accompanied with two and a half hours of cardio each week.


One of my goals in life is to promote strength training for everyone. I’m extremely passionate about this, and I feel through strength we can help eliminate many of these preventable, chronic diseases. I want to live in a world one day where everyone strength trains and we’re overall more resilient because of it.


Leave a comment or reach out to me on social media if you have any questions!

References:

  • https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a37474114/pushups-average-american-survey/

  • https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

  • https://www.nfcr.org/blog/cancer-prevention-which-type-of-exercise-lowers-your-risk/

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