Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time of breast cancer survivors, and associations with adiposity: findings from NHANES (2003-2006)

Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Feb;21(2):283-8. doi: 10.1007/s10552-009-9460-6. Epub 2009 Nov 1.


Objective: Obesity and physical inactivity are poor prognostic indicators for breast cancer. Studies to date have relied on self-report measures of physical activity, which tend mainly to assess moderate-to-vigorous intensity leisure-time physical activity. We report the cross-sectional associations of objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary time with adiposity in a sample of breast cancer survivors from the United States.

Methods: One hundred and eleven women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 reported a history of breast cancer. Participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days, and activity levels were summarized as moderate-to-vigorous intensity (accelerometer counts/min > or =1,952), light intensity (counts/min 100-1,951), and sedentary time (counts/min <100). Anthropometric measures were taken by study staff at examination centers.

Results: Participants spent the majority of their day in sedentary time (66%) or in light intensity activities (33%). Log moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity was negatively associated with adiposity (waist circumference beta = -9.805 [95% CI: -15.836, -3.775]; BMI beta = -3.576 [95% CI: -6.687, -0.464]). Light intensity physical activity was negatively associated with adiposity; however, the fully adjusted models did not retain statistical significance. Similarly, sedentary time was positively associated with adiposity, but the fully adjusted models were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: This is the first study to describe the objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary time of breast cancer survivors. Increasing moderate-to-vigorous and light intensity physical activity, and decreasing sedentary time, may assist with weight management and improve other metabolic health outcomes for breast cancer survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Survivors*
  • United States


  • Insulin