The type of exercise that will lower the risk of this disease isn’t strenuous at all.

But exercising now to lower your risk of colon cancer, reports a study.

The correlation between exercise and colon cancer is substantial, according to study results from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, and Harvard University:

Study subjects who exercised the most had a 24 percent lower chance of getting colon cancer, than people who exercised the least.

What’s particularly compelling about this study is that the link between this disease and exercise was demonstrated in spite of how the exercise was measured in this study, says Kathleen Y. Wolin, Sc.D., lead author of the study, which was reported in British Journal of Cancer (2009).

Even if you’re young, lowering the risk of colon cancer is yet one more reason to start exercising, and if you already are, to stick with it.

About 10 percent of people with this disease are diagnosed when they are younger than 50.

The Washington U. study (which analyzed studies dating back to 1984 on the link between exercise and colon cancer risk) suggests that there’d be 24,000 fewer newly diagnosed cases of this illness per year in the U.S. – if people would just get moving more.

The “exercise” that’s cited in these findings includes on-the-job physical activity (including walking a lot on the job), as well as recreational exercise (walking, bicycling, swimming), and of course, more structured exercise such as gym workouts or fitness classes.

If you’re having difficulty sticking to an exercise regimen, start thinking in terms of cutting the risk of colon cancer.

Sedentary people are more likely to get colon cancer than are active people.

Activity should also be more than just the walking you do on the job or any housework or yardwork that you do.

Structured exercise (aerobic and resistance) are very important for lowering the risk of colon cancer.

Guidelines for Those of Any Age Who Are New to Structured Exercise

   Do both aerobic and strength training workouts, but not on the same day.

   If you use a treadmill, do not hold on. This is unnatural and can lead to repetitive stress injuries and loss of balance. Use a slow pace in the beginning.

   Focus on “big” multi-joint exercises when it comes to weight machines or free weights. These would be leg, back, chest and shoulder exercises. Isolation exercises like curling dumbbells or side raises with dumbbells should make up a small percentage of your overall weightlifting regimen.

   Make sure you’re using good form. If you’re not sure, have a personal trainer evaluate you.

   If you’re having trouble staying motivated, remind yourself that active people have a lower risk of colon cancer.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.