Reducing your risk of bowel cancer

Weight around the middle is a leading risk factor in developing bowel cancer and an increasing number of studies show that exercise can reduce bowel cancer risk. The largest of these showed exercise could reduce the risk by up to a quarter (25%). When a healthy weight is also maintained, research has shown bowel cancer risk could be halved.

In fact regular, vigourous exercise has been shown to have anti-cancer properties by stimulating the production of anti-cancer chemicals by the body, including IGF-1.

Swimming provides a workout that uses all the body combining muscular strength and cardio activity. It is also low impact on joints so it is suitable for all ages. Find your nearest swimming pool.

Cycling and jogging have been shown to be particularly effective in burning calories with a jog over an hour burning around 400.

So, if you are looking to lose or maintain weight, these are a great start. If you are new to running build up slowly  – couch to 5k, a programme aimed at supporting people who currently do no exercise to take up running, is a really good resource from the NHS.

If you're undergoing treatment for bowel cancer

yoga bowel cancer

If you are currently receiving treatment for bowel cancer and want to keep active where possible yoga could be useful.

It can be done anywhere from the sofa to the studio and incorporates poses from simple breathing exercises to muscle building, meaning it can be personalised to how you are feeling and what you can manage. See the NHS Choices comprehensive yoga guide for more information.

There is a great deal of mounting evidence to show that exercise can be beneficial before and during chemotherapy. Professor Robert Thomas, a consultant oncologist has devoted many years to delivering sound evidence on lifestyle and cancer in general. His book Lifestyle after Cancer, with foreward by Paula Radcliffe, is a recommended read for anyone living with a cancer diagnosis.