Get Off Your Butt: More exercise, less sitting lead to longer lives for CRC survivors

Colorectal cancer patients and survivors who sit less and exercise more actually live longer, according to a carefully designed study published in a recent Journal of Clinical Oncology .

Researchers found that cancer survivors who got exercise equaling about 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous walking had a 28% lower risk of death from any cause than those who did less than 60 minutes per week of walking.

And no matter their job, people who spent 6 or more hours a day of their leisure time sitting (reading, watching TV, computer-anything) had 36% higher risk of death from any cause, than people who sat 3 hours or less per day during leisure time.

Perhaps most striking, those who reported leisure-time sitting of more than 6 hours after they were diagnosed with colorectal cancer had a 62% higher risk of dying from colorectal cancer.

This was the first-ever study of the association between leisure-time sitting and death rates, but also one of the first-ever prospective, long-term studies of exercise and survival “that was beautifully designed and analyzed” according to University of Oxford professor Dr. David Kerr.

Using a national study of 184,000 people who filled out questionnaires at the beginning of a 16-year study, researchers focused on 2293 people who developed either localized or regional—but not metastatic—colon or rectal cancer during that time. (The average time of survival after their diagnosis was almost 7 years.) They compared the participants’ reported exercise and sitting times both before and after diagnosis with death from colorectal cancer or any other cause.


The study authors wrote, “Our results add to mounting evidence that physicians should consider counseling colorectal cancer survivors to adopt a physically active lifestyle …150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, such as walking, and to avoid prolonged sitting.”

So shut down your computer, and go out for a walk!

SOURCES: “Associations of Recreational Physical Activity and Leisure Time Spent Sitting With Colorectal Cancer Survival,” March 1 2013 Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO 31:876-885); Medline abstract ;“Get Off Your Bottom,” David Kerr, April 19 2013 Medscape .



  1. carolyn gaines says

    my colon cancer was missed by colonoscopy, (had pre-cancerous polyp removed year previously) and was told by surgeon that it was 99.9 accurate. By the time I was diagnosed was stage 3B, given 50/50 survival chance. Had been to GPs on numerous occasions was told it was Irritable bowel syndrome. No one was taking me seriously. After 2 big bleeds in toilet then was referred back to surgeon who had done the colonoscopy, after the polyp removel. I had visits to toilet 15 times day, over year but also had been going through the same thing for a few years before that! Diahorrea etc. black stools. After the bowel resection, Ate fresh veg, fruit, garlic, curcumin, tumeric capsules, green tea- 5 cups day and capsules, brocili, – etc to keep body alkaline for phyto nutrients, fish oils. Also had 8 Oxilaplatin doses, which was spread out over 8 months, port fitted. Had typical side effects of low blood counts, anemia, which meant could not have a continuous chemotherapy. Cancer had not spread through bowel wall but 2 lymph nodes cancer infected. 2 years later, clear CT scans but ongoing bad neuorothapy which happened spontanous damage on the 8th treatment. (which may have been prevented had I only been given 6 or 7 treatments, I found this out later), Now 2 years later i have constant burning and electric type shocks, constant tingling all over my feet, toes, run down my legs, keeps my awake, affects my walking. I have numbness like symptons, I can’t feel properly, sensations to all my body, except my face! My hands are affected too. Get a lot of pain in the cold and my skin turns white, even my chest. I get really cold quickly, in the house and can’t go out in the cold. I wear sheepskin boots, thick socks but still have pain and cold feet in a supermarket. i still have poly neuropathy hands & feet over 2 years later and there does not seem to be a register to keep a note of how many people are affected on a permanent basis from the drug oxilaplatin. I think it is really under reported. I also suffer from sjorgrens and fibromyalgia which have all worsened a lot since the chemotherapy. I have to live with permanent neuropathy all the time, since chemotherapy. My eyes are really dry and have recurrent corneal erosions, (my tears have diminished to a score of 1 out of 10. My throat is constant thirst, suffer constant sinusitis infections too. My eyes are red too. My main struggle is my muscles ache constantly, I can hardly lift my arms in the shower, real struggle. (fibrmyalgia worsened a lot) since chemotherapy or it may be the neurothapy. Been to doctors lots of times, no help. They prescribed neurton, pregabepentin but you can’t drive, or think properly. It masks the symptons slightly. Makes you very drowsy and affects your memory so there is no solution. Had visit to foot expert 2 days ago and said my arches had dropped and he had physical symptons of peripheral neurothapy, he could see the ligaments in my toes had shortened on top of my foot. my feet are white too bloods not coming back like it should. carolyn

    • Mary Miller says

      Sorry you have all these complications and issues. We have some good information about neuropathy on the Fight Colorectal Cancer website, and there is some hopeful research about a possible medication (Eloxitan, the antidepressant) that you can also read about. It IS hard to think about getting some exercise, on top of all your other issues…Small steps–even just getting outdoors, walking a block or just around your home for 5 minutes a day, might give you some comfort. Hang in there.

  2. says

    As a Stage 2 Rectal Cancer Survivor, your article is right on
    target! At the hospital were I received my treatment, the
    have the FitSteps for Life program which is an exercise
    area/program addressing this issue right on.

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