ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

+ -Text Size


American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

  • Adults: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on 5 or more days of the week; 45 to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity are preferable.
  • Children and adolescents: Engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week.

Usual activities are those that are done on a regular basis as part of one's daily routine. These activities include those done at work (such as walking from the parking garage to the office), at home (such as climbing a flight of stairs), as well as those that are part of daily living (such as dressing and bathing). Usual activities are typically brief and of low intensity. Intentional activities are those that are done in addition to these usual activities. Moderate activities are those that require effort equal to a brisk walk. Vigorous activities generally use large muscle groups and cause faster heart rate, deeper and faster breathing, and sweating.

Examples of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activities


    Moderate Activities

    Vigorous Activities

    Exercise and Leisure

    Walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, ice-skating or roller-skating, horseback riding, canoeing, yoga

    Jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training, aerobic dance, martial arts, jumping rope, swimming


    Volleyball, golfing, softball, baseball, badminton, doubles tennis, downhill skiing

    Soccer, field hockey or ice hockey, lacrosse, singles tennis, racquetball, basketball, cross-country skiing

    Home Activities

    Mowing the lawn, general lawn and garden maintenance

    Digging, carrying and hauling, masonry, carpentry

    Occupational Activity

    Walking and lifting as part of the job (custodial work, farming, auto or machine repair)

    Heavy manual labor (forestry, construction, fire fighting)

Physical activity may reduce the risk of several types of cancer:

  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Endometrium (uterus)
  • Prostate

The benefits of a physically active lifestyle go far beyond lowering cancer risk. They include lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis (bone thinning).

Tips on how to be more active

  • Use stairs rather than an elevator.
  • If you can, walk or bike to your destination.
  • Exercise at lunch with your co-workers, family, or friends.
  • Take an exercise break at work to stretch or take a quick walk.
  • Walk to visit co-workers instead of phoning or sending an e-mail.
  • Go dancing with your spouse or friends.
  • Plan active vacations rather than sit-down trips.
  • Wear a pedometer (a device that counts each step taken) every day and increase your daily steps.
  • Join a sports team.
  • Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.
  • Plan your exercise routine to gradually increase the days per week and minutes per session.

Spend time playing with your kids.

Last Medical Review: 05/04/2011
Last Revised: 05/04/2011