The Prostate Protection Plan: Get a Move On
It’s no revelation that the more active you are, the better off you are in terms of many aspects of life — your heart health, your longevity, your physical appearance, and your happiness. What you don’t hear much about is how important exercise is to your prostate.
More than a dozen studies have found that regular exercise can help reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The reason? Exercise helps keep hormones in balance. Exercise improves the ratio of estrogen to testosterone, says The Physician and Sports Medicine. It also helps keep insulin and another substance, called insulin-like growth factor — both of which are implicated in prostate cancer — in check. Plus, exercise helps you control your weight and keep your waistline trim.
Two Harvard Medical School studies, involving more than 3,000 men, found that the frequency and level of heart-pumping aerobic exercise correlated to reducing the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer. One study found that men who exercised aerobically for a half-hour a day, or three or more hours a week, reduced their risk of dying from prostate cancer by 35 percent. Men who walked four or more hours a week reduced their risk by 23 percent.
Other research indicates that black men, who are genetically at greatest risk for prostate cancer, can cut their risk significantly with frequent and regular moderate to vigorous exercise starting at a young age.
If you have BPH, exercise can help diminish lower urinary tract symptoms. A study of nearly 3,000 men with BPH found that moderate to vigorous physical exercise resulted in stronger urine flow and a diminished sensation that the bladder was not completely empty. The men also reported less need to get up in the middle of the night to urinate. The men who worked out the hardest reported getting the most symptom relief.
So how much exercise is considered optimum for prostate protection? Five or more hours a week of vigorous activity, say researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health. This includes such things as jogging, rowing, cycling, or playing tennis or squash. However, they noted, any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all. Even 15 minutes a day was found to reduce prostate cancer risk in some men.
- FC&A Staff Writer