Fighting the deadly disease with fitness

This morning’s news websites are littered with similar articles reporting that by 2020, half the UK population will get cancer in their lifetime. Such a report is from the BBC website at

I find this a shocking stat. Having said that, I also think it’s a miracle that humans survive as long as we do or are even born at all. As a parent, you really get to appreciate exactly how amazing the miracle of life is. Even more so given my wife had several miscarriages before giving birth to our amazing, and perfect (in most senses!), boys!

Of course, we all age. It’s an inevitable part of life. Let’s face it, and many of us don’t wish to think about it, death is the most inevitable part of life.

I’m no expert in the human body other being the proud owner of a middle of the range variety that’s past its best (and its best was never great). Our life is dependent entirely on such a simple thing; cells and, most importantly, cell reproduction. Over time, and due to many factors, our body’s ability to reproduce cells diminishes and we age, develop illnesses, diseases and, ultimately, reach life’s inevitable conclusion.

From the moment the first cell divides, the potential for something going wrong increases. Life’s like that. How the division of cells ends up allowing me to think, sit in this chair, type these ramblings and do many, many more amazing feats each day is a miracle.

When I first started running, I did so as I wanted to get fit. Fit for my family. Fit for life. There are lots of articles and associated research that clearly show a strong correlation between healthy lifestyles and reducing the effects of aging and the likelihood of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. To me, that’s common sense. I am no angel. I’ve drunk, I’ve smoked. I’ve abused my body a little over the years. Not massively (and I see a society where the norm appears to be to do more harm than I’ve ever done in a society which at times appears to normalise such behaviour).

It’s inevitable that my boys will drink, possibly smoke or even take drugs in their teen and later years. I sincerely hope they don’t participate in the latter two and that by the time they reach their teens that smoking is far less prelevant than it is today. Yes, I’ve smoked (but not for 20+years) but, in my honest opinion, only complete idiots would smoke knowing the harm they are doing to both themselves and others. It’s not as if we don’t know what harm smoking can do.

I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. My diet isn’t great. I’ve been overweight. In fact, I’ve been obese. According to my BMI (which I understand isn’t the best indicator) I’m teetering on the knife-edge of normal to overweight at the moment. So, there’s definitely room for improvement there.

My nearest and dearest think my training (which has mushroomed from just running to also include swimming and cycling) is going to result in replacement knees, hips and a worn out body. I have suffered a number of injuries since my ‘obsession’ with running started about 4 years ago which are directly related BUT I sincerely believe that I’m doing as much as I can to be fit for life. Being fit and engaging in the related physical activities gives me the time to let me mind wander, to stream endorphins through my body, to feel the rush of adrenaline. All factors that can keep me positive and stave off depression.

The truth is that I love to get out and be active. I can’t wait for my next lake swim. I want to get out and do a long run. I’m really looking forward to competing in my first triathlon. I’m excited about running my next parkrun with Daniel on Saturday. Each of these activities is simply a means to an end. Each diarised activity whether a training session, a parkrun, a race etc is one of many challenges I set myself to become, and remain, fit.

It takes commitment and drive. It takes perseverance. At times, it takes hard work. No-one said life was easy. The Government recommend undertaking physical activity for 30 minutes 5 times a week.

If doing that or more gives me one extra day with my boys, means I’ve done something to prevent cancer, it’s worth it.

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