Regular exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it also most likely reduces the risk of colon, endometrium, lung, pancreas, and breast cancer. That's because keeping active strengthens the immune system, helps lower body fat, and regulates hormone levels. "With each step you take throughout the day, you're changing your body chemistry to prevent rather than promote cancer," says Karen Collins, R.D., the AICR's nutrition adviser. Make 60 minutes of moderate activity daily your goal (which can be broken up into 10-minute increments throughout the day). This is especially important starting at around age 40 in order to compensate for the natural, age-related wane in hormones such as estrogen that help maintain bone and calorie-burning muscle. "Basically, if you don't increase your physical activity level as you get older, you'll inevitably gain weight," Dr. Willett says.
Find a fitness walk to train for, such as a local 5K or half-marathon. Then commit to an hour a day of brisk walking to get in shape for the event. Sound like a lot? "If you're committed to your goal, you'll find a way to fit in an hour's worth of exercise, no matter how busy you are," says Laurie Bagley, an online fitness coach in Weed, California. The key to making it happen is to reserve time for exercise appointments in your day planner, just as you would for business meetings.
Also, think about where your schedule provides pockets of exercise opportunity. "Many people watch TV from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night. That's lost time for activity," says Steven H. Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D., professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Why not use a portion of this time for a bike ride, a walk with your family, or an exercise DVD, before rewarding yourself with your favorite show.