Sperling Prostate Center

Walk Away Your Prostate Cancer Risk

I came across a January, 2022 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that inspired one of those “AHA!” realizations. Its conclusion on preventing death was so simple yet compelling that I thought it was worth sharing: increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by only 10 minutes per day can prevent 8% of deaths among men ages 40-85 each year.[i]

Think about it: a mere 10 minutes extra of moderate physical activity could save about 110,000 men and women annually from preventable causes of death. While not everyone can get to a gym to work out, there’s an easy activity that is available to almost everyone: recreational walking.

Walking has been the universal exercise since our remote ancestors became upright and began to rely on their own two feet and legs for bipedal transportation. Bipedal means walking (or running) on two feet, and it is thought that this began about 4 million years ago. Most of us move about all day long by walking, which offers a complete set of benefits with no equipment except comfortable shoes.

Benefits of walking

Even something as basic as taking a stroll maintains and even improves your overall wellness. Your heart and circulatory systems function better, your blood glucose metabolism becomes more efficient, your blood pressure comes under better control, and your mental and emotional state is uplifted. Not only are you working your large muscle groups, you’re also having a positive impact on broader systemic health. The more you walk, the better your overall condition.

Walking and prostate cancer

You probably already know all this about your general health, but what about prostate cancer (PCa)? Can recreational walking add any specific PCa value, and if so, does the amount of walking matter? The answer to both questions is yes, thanks to epidemiological research done under the auspices of the American Cancer Society.

Wang, et al. (2017) analyzed data on the link between low-risk PCa, recreational activity, and PCa specific mortality. They had access to records for a nearly 20-year period (1992/93 – 2011). There were 7328 men prior to their PCa diagnosis (prediagnostic group) and 5319 men after their diagnosis (postdiagnostic group).[ii] Results for patients whose recreational activity was walking revealed that:

  • In the prediagnostic group, those patients with low-risk tumors who walked significantly more than those who did not had roughly 37% less risk of dying from their PCa, and
  • In the postdiagnostic group, those with low-risk tumors who walked significantly more had roughly 31% less risk of dying from their PCa.

The authors concluded, “In a large follow-up study of men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer, those who exercise more after diagnosis had a lower risk of dying from prostate cancer.” To circle back to the 2022 JAMA article, a strong case can be made for PCa patients that walking is good for general health, more walking is even better to prevent dying from PCa, and just 10 minutes more per day is a small but magic investment of time. Little by little, those steps add up to many miles. To paraphrase the Scottish rock duo The Proclaimers, are you willing to walk 500 miles, and 500 more, just to be the man who walks 1,000 miles to keep PCa mortality from knocking on your door?

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i] Saint-Maurice PF, Graubard BI, Troiano RP, et al. Estimated Number of Deaths Prevented Through Increased Physical Activity Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182(3):349–352.
[ii] Wang Y, Jacobs EJ, Gapstur SM, Maliniak ML, Gansler T, McCullough ML, Stevens VL, Patel AV. Recreational Physical Activity in Relation to Prostate Cancer-specific Mortality Among Men with Nonmetastatic Prostate Cancer. Eur Urol. 2017 Dec;72(6):931-939.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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