There is strong evidence that being active reduces the risk of three cancers:1

Scientists are still investigating exactly how physical activity reduces cancer risk, but studies suggest that regular activity can help keep our hormone levels healthy. This is important as having high levels of some hormones can increase the risk of cancer.

Being active can improve insulin sensitivity, helping with the condition insulin resistance (where the hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar levels). Insulin resistance can increase levels of inflammation in the body which has been shown to have a role in cancer development.

Aid to digestion

Being active helps move food through the digestive system more quickly, reducing the amount of time that any cancer-causing substances are in contact with the lining of the bowel.

There is also strong evidence that being overweight or obese is linked to many types of cancer. Aerobic physical activity, including walking, can help to maintain a healthy weight2, reducing the risk of 12 common cancers.


  1. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute of Cancer Research. Physical activity. 2018.
  2. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Expert Report. Diet, nutrition and physical activity: Energy balance and body fatness 2018.