October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We here at Template would like to take the time to salute those who have been affected by breast cancer. Current pink warriors, those in remission, survivors, family members, and friends of those affected by breast cancer and those who hold the memories of a loved one who lost their fight to cancer, we are thinking of and praying for you all.
In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are starting an informative series about breast cancer. This week, we spoke to Craig Walkine Sr., the owner/operator of Outdoor Fitness Bahamas Ltd. about the importance of exercise and diet as it relates to breast cancer.
According to international and local health agencies (IDB, WHO, Min Of Health), more than 70% of our adult population here in The Bahamas is overweight or obese, resulting in us having the highest rate of hypertension, diabetes, and some forms of cancer in the region. We also rank sixth in the world for obesity with 72% of our female population classifying as overweight and 43% classifying as obese.
It is no secret that regular physical exercise and healthy eating are good for our health in general, but, what some people may not know, is that engaging in consistent moderate exercise coupled with a healthy diet is linked with a lower risk of certain types of cancer including breast cancer.
As a matter of fact, research suggests that about 70% of our lifetime risk of cancer is within our power to change. According to breastcancer.org, exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and reduces the chances of recurrence of breast cancer is you have been diagnosed. Exercise has also been deemed safe during and after all breast cancer treatments, once it is low in intensity, and precautions are taken.
For persons not battling cancer, we too must continue to exercise. Here are some of the benefits of staying active:
Lowers risk of developing some forms of cancer, including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancers
Lower risk of developing heart disease
Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
Can help keep your body at a healthy weight, which prevents obesity
Aids in aging well
Improves mood, mental health, and mental sharpness (no brain fog)
You don’t have to be a marathon runner to consider yourself physically active. Walking at about 3 mph (or 20 minutes per mile) is considered moderate intensity. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week (or a combination of these).
You can get in the recommended activity levels by just walking on your lunch break for 30 -minutes, 5 days a week. You can also join a gym or an exercise group to help to keep you motivated to reach your fitness goals. Outdoor Fitness Bahamas offers daily exercise sessions at 9 outdoor locations along with an online program, which you can access from the comfort of your own home.
What about the importance of a healthy diet? Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle has other tremendous benefits such as:
Lowers risk of developing many illnesses, including certain types of cancer
Improves mental health and increases energy
Saves money by cutting back on junk food, smoking, and drinking sugary drinks or alcohol
To lower your risk for serious diseases and cancers, aim to build your diet around a variety of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and healthy fats. At the same time, try to limit the amount of processed and fried foods, unhealthy fats, sugars, and refined carbs you consume.
Here are some tips to assist you in eating well:
Fill up on fiber
Choose healthy fats- high-fat diets can increase your risk for cancer, but healthy fats can protect against cancer
Add more unsaturated fats to your diet- try to eat foods like fish, olives, oils, nuts, and avocados
Increase your Omega-3 fatty acid intake- foods such as salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds contain Omega-3’s, which can fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.
Ingest food with trans fats and hydrogenated oil- avoid packaged and fried foods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, french fries, fried chicken, and hard taco shells
Consume too much red meat and dairy- the saturated fats found in these foods should represent no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake
Have too much sugar and refined carbs
Remember that you don’t necessarily need to throw out all the food in the house and start running 5 miles a day. Start gradually and then build to throwing out all the bad stuff in your kitchen cupboards. Start slowly with exercise and join a program if you can.
If you are battling cancer currently, we pray that God blesses you with strength, endurance, and mercy in your fight and that He divinely aligns you with the medical, spiritual, and emotional team you need to support you holistically as you recover. If you are in remission, we are believing with you that there will be only good reports from here on out and that this chapter of your life will soon be over! If you are a survivor, we congratulate, love, and support as you move forward in your life!
At any moment, no matter what our lives may look like, we can choose to change and become a healthier version of ourselves. It all starts with us making the decision to live healthier and then making baby steps in the right direction.
Make small changes until your health goals are met. You can do it!
Following his passion for fitness, he started Outdoor Fitness Bahamas (OFB) in 2010, after having been involved in athletics for most of his life. He is a Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer and is devoted to helping people transform their lives through exercise and proper nutrition.
Craig is a graduate of The Government High School and holds a BA degree in Mass Communications from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
He is married and has three children.
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