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60 Minutes to a Healthier Colon

60 Minutes to a Healthier Colon

One in three adults will get colon polyps, but the odds drop to one in four if you do this for just 1 hour each week: exercise.

Any activity will do. Take a stroll, pull weeds, or chase your grandchild around in the yard. In a study, adults who got at least 1 hour of physical activity per week were less likely to develop colon polyps compared with those who got less than an hour.

Polyp Protection
Interestingly, while exercise reduced the risk of all polyps in the study, it lowered the risk of advanced precancerous colon growths the most. So exercise may help protect you from the most dangerous types of polyps. Also, for some reason, adults who were overweight or obese got more polyp protection from exercising than those who were normal weight. So if you have a few pounds to lose, a little exercise may be extra helpful for your colon health. To boost your overall health and fitness, you need to move more than just an hour a week. But if you're short on time, it's good to know that even a little exercise is worthwhile -- especially for your colon. (Related: Eat this leafy green for your colon.)

More Is Better
It's not clear exactly how exercise helps protect the colon from cancerous polyps. This recent study didn't delve into it. But other studies have suggested that physical activity may affect insulin and certain hormones in a way that helps inhibit colon cancer growth. Plus, we already know that exercise boosts immune-system function and helps decrease carcinogens in the body, which may further explain the recent study results. Here are a few more ways to reduce your colon cancer risk:

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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