Local cancer survivor touts important benefits of exercise

Abbe Jacobson in Discovery Park

SEATTLE -- There's new evidence that shows regular exercise can significantly cut the risk of more than a dozen cancers, yet the vast majority of Americans fails to meet the minimum requirements.

It's hard news to take, since more than 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

This is the heart of the message Abbe Jacobson works to spread, now working as the outreach manager at Team Survivor Northwest. This group provides fitness and health education programs to help female cancer survivors.

"It's good not only for your body, it's good for your mind," said Jacobson.

A wife and mother of 2, Jacobson's now run 7 marathons and she coaches others.

"In addition to helping you feel healthy, exercise can be very empowering," said Jacobson.

A certified health and life coach and a personal trainer, Jacobson works to help others stay active.

"All you need to do is 150 minutes a week," said Jacobson.

That's the current recommendation from federal health officials for adults, which when you break it down can be 25 minutes of moderate exercise a day, 6 days a week. For children, Dr. McTiernan said it's a hour a day, most days a week.

"The guidelines also includes strength training two times a week," said Dr. McKiernan.

Dr. Anne McTiernan at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center helped write those initial guidelines and now she's on the panel currently updating the recommendations.

"I think it's about 70 percent of people are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity in our country," said Dr. McTiernan.

Even though studies now show exercise can significantly reduce your risk of 13 different cancers, many still don't take the time to exercise.

"It's like wearing a seatbelt you don't guarantee that you'll never have a problem in an accident," said Dr. McTiernan.

Jacobson started taking exercise serious, 15 years ago.

"So I had early stage ovarian cancer," said Jacobson.

That diagnosis came when she had a toddler and a 5-year-old at home and she and her husband were trying for a third baby.

"I was very, very lucky, you know 70 percent of the cases are late stage when they're found. And I was, mine was caught very early," said Jacobson.

She not only took control of her own health but that's when she also decided to change careers, to empower others.

"I really wanted to be a round as long as I possible could to raise my two children. They were my North Star through the entire thing. I wanted to be as healthy as I possibly could -- I wanted to be able to see them graduate from high school, I want to see them graduate from college, I want to see them have grandchildren," said Jacobson.

After running her own coaching business for years, while raising her children, Jacobson recently went to work at Team Survivor Northwest, boasting the benefits of exercise in relation to cancer to many more women.

Now she's learned and teaches others, that you don't have to have this all or nothing approach to life. She likes the 80/20 rule. If you an just do what's good for you in terms of exercise and diet 80 percent of the time, you're way ahead of doing nothing at all.

So if you look at the time and decide you don't have time for an hour of exercise, but you have 30 minutes, go for the 30 or 20 minutes.

"And it's paid off I'm here 15 years later. And I hope to be here many more years," said Jacobson.

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