The impact that exercise can have on cancer prevention, as well as the benefits it offers to those living with the disease and beyond, is being highlighted by the Irish Cancer Prevention Network.
The network is made up of a number of key cancer organisations, including the National Cancer Control Programme and the Irish Cancer Society, who work together with the aim of reducing the risk of cancer for people in Ireland.
It is teaming up with parkrun, which organises free weekly runs nationwide, to highlight the many benefits of exercise. To mark World Cancer Day on February 4, it is calling on people to bring a friend to parkrun this Saturday (February 8).
"Each year, around 35,000 people in Ireland develop cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Ireland with over 9,000 people dying each year. This means we must identify opportunities to reduce the risk of the disease and support those affected by cancer.
"Partnering with parkrun on this initiative is a great opportunity to spread the message that physical activity can reduce your risk of cancer and improve quality of life for people living with and beyond cancer. We are hoping that as many people as possible will join us in taking part with a friend or family member this Saturday," commented Dr Triona McCarthy of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme.
Evidence suggests that exercise can reduce the risk of seven common types of cancer, including breast, bladder, stomach and bowel cancer. Furthermore, physical activity after a diagnosis of breast and bowel cancer is linked with improved survival rates.
Research also suggests that exercise during and after cancer treatment can reduce fatigue, anxiety and depression, while also improving physical function and overall quality of life.
"Staying active can help you lower your risk of many types of cancer. With most adults in Ireland spending over five hours on average on a weekday sitting, it is really important we do all we can to encourage people to get active to lower their risk of cancer.
"Coming along to parkrun every Saturday is an excellent way of building regular exercise into your life. World Cancer Day is a great day to get started," commented Kevin O'Hagan, cancer prevention manager with the Irish Cancer Society.
Caroline Kennedy is a breast cancer survivor who is running her 50th parkrun in Tipperary this week.
"The benefits of exercise from both a physical and mental health perspective should not be underestimated. Also the encouragement and support from my fellow parkrunners has, in no small way, contributed to my wellbeing during my illness and recovery.
"Cancer can make you feel as if you're different to other people, but being involved in parkrun helped me feel the same and part of something special," she said.
You can find your local parkrun at www.parkrun.ie
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