Purpose: Exercise has emerged as an important quality-of-life intervention for cancer survivors, but exercise motivation is a challenge. The purpose of this study was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the exercise preferences of cancer survivors.
Description of study: A mailed, self-administered survey was completed by 307 survivors of prostate, breast, colorectal, or lung cancer. The survey contained questions on demographic and medical variables, past exercise, and various exercise counseling and programming preferences.
Results: For exercise counseling, 84% of participants said they preferred or maybe preferred to receive exercise counseling at some point during their cancer experience. Moreover, 85% preferred to receive exercise counseling face to face, and 77% preferred to receive it from an exercise specialist affiliated with a cancer center. For exercise programming, 98% preferred recreational exercises, 8!% preferred walking, 57% preferred unsupervised exercise (57%), and 56% preferred moderate-intensity exercise. In addition, 48% preferred to exercise in the morning, 44% preferred to exercise alone, 40% preferred to exercise at home, and 32% preferred to start their exercise program before treatment. Chi-square analyses revealed that a small number of exercise preferences were moderated by demographic, medical, and exercise variables.
Clinical implications: The results of this study indicate that cancer survivors have unique and varied exercise counseling and programming preferences. Fifty-six percent of cancer survivors preferred to exercise at moderate intensity rather than at high intensity. Moderate-intensity exercise has been shown previously to be relatively safe even for cancer survivors who are advanced in age. The key to success for inactive cancer survivors may be to provide reassurance that exercise is a safe and beneficial modality for cancer survivors and to prescribe an exercise program that builds their confidence by slowly increasing the level of exercise intensity.