Objectively measured physical activity among US cancer survivors: considerations by weight status

J Cancer Surviv. 2013 Sep;7(3):493-9. doi: 10.1007/s11764-013-0293-7. Epub 2013 May 18.


Purpose: We have a limited understanding of the objectively determined physical activity levels of cancer survivors at the population level. Further, we have even less of an understanding of this behavior by weight status (i.e., normal weight, overweight, and obese). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe accelerometer-assessed physical activity levels among US cancer survivors and to do so across weight status.

Methods: Data from the 2003-2006 NHANES was used. One hundred twenty-six adult cancer survivors wore an accelerometer for ≥4 days, with weight status determined from measured body mass index.

Results: Approximately 13 % of cancer survivors were sufficiently active (i.e., met current physical activity guidelines). Results were not significant for light-intensity physical activity; however, results showed that obese cancer survivors engaged in 47 % less MVPA than normal weight cancer survivors (rate ratio = 0.53; 95 % CI, 0.29-0.93).

Conclusion: Most adult cancer survivors are insufficiently active and obese cancer survivors engage in less MVPA than their counterparts.

Implications for cancer survivors: Health care professionals are encouraged to increase cancer survivors' awareness of the minimum levels of MVPA needed for optimal health, particularly among obese cancer survivors. Additionally, cancer survivors should also be informed of the positive health outcomes associated with light-intensity physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Neoplasms* / rehabilitation
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Survivors* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology