This October, Curves is commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month by recognising what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
We all know that being active and making healthy lifestyle choices helps us in lots of different aspects of our health, but did you know that it can also lower the risk of various types of cancer?
According to Cancer Research UK, somebody is diagnosed every two minutes, with about 1,000 new cases every day - for women, about 1 in 3 of us will develop it in our lifetime. These are understandably frightening statistics to read, but we also know that over a third of cases are preventable.
This means that we have hope for avoiding this dreadful illness by making smart choices with regard to our health and lifestyle. It may seem daunting (there are lots of things to consider) but with baby steps and small changes to our habits, we hold enough power to make a difference in our lives.
There are three main kinds of lifestyle choices we can make:
Reaching a healthy body weight
Eating a healthy and well-rounded diet
Being physically active on a regular basis
According to Walter Willett (Head of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health), “if you don’t smoke, the most important thing you can do to prevent cancer is to keep your weight under control.” One of the reasons for this is all down to hormones. Certain hormones are what we call carcinogenic, or related to a higher risk of developing cancer, such as insulin, estrogens, and androgens. Research has shown that obese or overweight people who intentionally lost weight reduced their levels of these hormones, hence reducing their cancer risk. Even losing just 5-10% of your body weight has been proven to be a really effective prevention method!
Although there’s more to health than weight and numbers, it’s important to keep a check on them to an extent - they can’t tell us everything, but they can give us a broad picture of our well-being. Certain tools, like the BMI Calculator, can help us see our weight categorization; the ideal range to be within is called "healthy weight", as it has no direct health risks!
Losing weight should be a steady and unhurried process. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to progressively make changes to our diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors, such as sleep.
Experts believe that almost 1 in 10 cancer cases in the UK are linked to unhealthy diets, which only goes to show how much impact our choices really have! Your risk is significantly reduced by eating a healthy and balanced diet. Now, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘healthy and balanced diet’ thrown around an untold amount of times. What does it actually mean and actually look like?
The two main things we want to think about are the size of our portion, and what our portion is made up of. There are certain generic guidelines regarding the recommended daily intake of calories (which is more or less 2000 for women), but it’s 100% better to get advice from a doctor or other medical professional to work out what’s best for you. It varies depending on your age, activity level, and much more!
When it comes to what’s on your plate, we want to think about the nutrients we’re getting. Carbs, proteins, fats, and vitamins/minerals are all integral parts of our bodies - use this EatWell Guide to figure out how to apply it to your meals.
Let’s get physical! Not only does physical activity like strength training and cardio help us maintain a healthy weight, but it has also been shown to strengthen our immune system and keep our digestive system healthy. Generally, being active throughout the day has invaluable health benefits, and you’d be surprised by what counts as being active - you don’t even have to leave your home! Think gardening, pushing a lawnmower, doing household chores, carrying shopping, dancing, family games, and a brisk walk are all brilliant and completely doable ways to stay active. On top of this, give something new a go!
Have a look online to see what’s on around you - maybe you fancy a group walk, a dance class, a cycling group, or a gym class near you!
Our entire purpose at Curves is to keep all the women in our community moving so that we can reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle together!
This is especially important to us during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Almost all of us have been impacted by cancer in some way, and it goes without saying that it can be one of the hardest things to go through for everyone involved. This is why this month we have worked on a Wellness Workshop together with the Mulberry Centre, a local cancer support charity. This was live-streamed and the playback of it can be found on our Instagram page, or through this link! The Mulberry Centre works tirelessly to improve the lives of anyone affected by cancer, by offering psychological support, creative activities, informative workshops, and well-being classes. Linked below are support services to use or reach out to if you need any help with regard to the topics of this post.
And remember, though we’re not psychological professionals, all of your coaches at Curves want to do our best to help you; reach out to us whenever you need our support. We hold the power to change our lives!
Cancer Support Links: