From: Reuters
Published May 21, 2008 01:41 PM

Cancer society challenges Americans to get active

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The American Cancer Society (ACS) has launched a new 10-week challenge to help people get active, stay active and have fun doing it.

The Get Active Challenge program, online at http://www.getactivechallenge.org/, allows users to create individualized plans, track their progress, and get friends, family and neighbors involved, Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity at the ACS in Atlanta, told Reuters Health. "You can get other people on a team with you and you can motivate each other," she explained in an interview.

A recent ACS survey found that 36 percent of people felt they had no control over their risk of developing cancer, Doyle noted. But in fact, she added, up to half of cancer deaths can be prevented by eating right, staying at a healthy weight, being active, quitting smoking, and getting the appropriate screening tests.

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Diet and exercise alone could prevent up to one third of cancer deaths. "People are not aware of the tremendous impact being active can have on their cancer risk," she said.

The ACS recommends that people get at least 30 minutes of activity at least five days a week. But people who are just starting to incorporate exercise into their lives can adjust their goals accordingly when using the Get Active program, Doyle said. "We kind of meet people where they are."

The web site includes tips to help incorporate activity into everyday life, for example walking to a co-worker's office rather than sending an E-mail and taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and guidance on staying motivated and building an active family life.

The program, launched on May 15, will be available online indefinitely, Doyle said. "People can tap into it at any time."

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