Physical activity can change biomarkers of cancer risk

Marie MurphyWhenever I give my talks on exercise and nutrition I speak about the five leading biomarkers of cancer risk. More importantly they are the reason I designed the Murphy METs Programme   Research studies have shown that resistance training affects the same biomarkers as when you do aerobic training. Which means when you combine both cardiovascular and resistance training as part of your physical activity you get double the benefits?

A form of aerobic training would be walking, jogging, biking, swimming etc; working the largest muscle groups in a repetitive movement.  Resistance exercise is any form of exercise that forces your skeletal muscles (not the involuntary muscles of your heart, lungs, etc.) to contract. An example of resistance training is using free-weights, machine-weights, resistance bands or doing pilates and yoga.

There are a number of physiological benefits of aerobic and resistance training; 2 examples are improvements in muscular function and strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen (maximal oxygen consumption or aerobic capacity). As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue.

Here are the five leading biomarkers for lowering risk;

  1. Cardiovascular function: Exercise promotes weight reduction and can help reduce blood pressure. Exercise also reduces “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] level), as well as total cholesterol, and can raise the “good” cholesterol (the high-density lipoprotein level [HDL]). By doing low to moderate physical activity and raising your metabolism 3-4 times your resting state helps lower your risk.  Example: walking at a pace of 20 minutes per mile (3 mph) or 13 minutes per kilometre.
  1. Body Fat: Avoiding obesity because extra body fat around the mid-section is one of the greatest risks. Maintaining a healthy weight for your height can greatly reduce your risk of contracting conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A combined programme (aerobic & straight training) with good nutrition is a positive way in achieving a healthy composition.
  1. Blood glucose level: Exercise reduces insulin levels. Muscles which are working use more glucose than those that are resting which means muscle movement leads to greater sugar uptake by muscle cells and lower blood sugar levels. High sugar levels slowly erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to make insulin. The organ overcompensates and insulin levels stay too high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged. High levels of blood sugar can also cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis.
  1. Inflammation: Research studies have shown that moderate exercise each week—about 20 minutes a day—lower inflammation by at least 12%. When we exercise, our adipose and muscle tissue release big bursts of cytokines (proteins) into our blood stream that causes inflammation to drop.  However, over exerting the body by doing too much exercise or lack of proper rest and/or recovery can have a counter effect.  Inflammation is also caused by an unhealthy diet; high intakes of processed foods, animal and animal products.
  1. Immune function: Exercise can boost your immune system and help your body fight off harmful diseases and even something as simple as the common cold.  Exercise boosts your immune system by providing a boost to the cells in your body that are assigned to attack bacteria. These cells appear to work more slowly in people who don’t exercise than in those that do.  Eating a healthy nutrition that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, low in fat and high in fibre will help keep your immune system strong.

Murphy METs Programme Designed for Prevention/Recurrence of Disease

For those who would like to get started on my programme the next training course will take place at the elbowroom DUBLIN’S FAVOURITE WELLBEING HUB

I’m delighted to be joining The elbowroom team where I’ll be bringing my 12 week METs programme in September. I’ve heard wonderful things about the centre and I feel my programme is a perfect fit with the ethos of The elbowroom community.

For more information please call 01 677 9859 or email

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