We know walking is good for our health – duh! The benefits of walking are numerous, with the activity helping to extend life, reduce stroke, prevent heart attacks, and improve overall wellness. In addition, a joint study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco and the Harvard School of Public Health reports a connection between brisk walking and a lowered risk of prostate cancer advancement.
The researchers in this study sampled a group of over 1,400 men in the United States who had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. They found that when participants walked at a rate of three miles per hour at least three hours per week they were 60 percent less likely to require a second cancer treatment.
“The important point was the intensity of the activity – the walking had to be brisk for men to experience a benefit,” said Erin Richman, ScD, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF who is the first author on the study, published today in the journal Cancer Research. “Our results provide men with prostate cancer something they can do to improve their prognosis.”
Another previous study demonstrated that engaging in physical activity after a cancer diagnosis could reduce mortality. Study leaders say success is integrally tied to the degree of an activity’s intensity; a casual stroll won’t do the trick. While any movement is great, they strongly recommended that men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer early elevate their heart rate and sweat a little during their walk.
The most recent prostate cancer and exercise study also found that walking helps patients most in the very early stages of the disease, before the onset of pain and fatigue which normally reduce activity. The benefits were not relative to the participants’ age, clinical aspects of their particular diagnosis, or the type of treatment they were receiving.
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men after skin cancer. According to the CDC, over 217,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually in the United States. In 2009, 28,088 men died from prostate cancer.
Benefits of Walking
A short, brisk daily walk can help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and elevate an individual’s mood. Walking also helps with weight control, can provide a venue for relaxation, and lowers “bad” cholesterol while raising “good” cholesterol.
If you have the opportunity, take a walk in the woods or a forest. Known as “forest bathing,” walking in nature can have profound benefits for your mental and physical health.