Physical activity levels among breast cancer survivors

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Sep;36(9):1484-91.


Introduction: Obesity and weight gain are negative prognostic factors for breast cancer survival. Physical activity (PA) prevents weight gain and may decrease obesity. Little information exists on PA levels among cancer survivors. We assessed PA, including the proportion of breast cancer survivors engaging in recommended levels, by categories of adiposity, age, disease stage, and ethnicity in 806 women with stage 0-IIIA breast cancer participating in the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Study.

Methods: Black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic breast cancer survivors were recruited into the study through Surveillance Epidemiology End Results registries in New Mexico, Western Washington, and Los Angeles County, CA. Types of sports and household activities and their frequency and duration within the third yr after diagnosis were assessed during an in-person interview.

Results: Thirty-two percent of breast cancer survivors participated in recommended levels of PA defined as 150 min x wk(-1) of moderate- to vigorous-intensity sports/recreational PA. When moderate-intensity household and gardening activities were included in the definition, 73% met the recommended level of PA. Fewer obese breast cancer survivors met the recommendation than overweight and lean breast cancer survivors (P < 0.05). Fewer black breast cancer survivors met the recommendation compared with non-Hispanic white and Hispanic breast cancer survivors (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Most of the breast cancer survivors were not meeting the PA recommendations proposed for the general adult population. Efforts to encourage and facilitate PA among these women would be an important tool to decrease obesity, prevent postdiagnosis weight gain, and improve breast cancer prognosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Survivors*
  • United States