Breast cancer patients getting too little exercise
Experts have already established that exercise increases survival and improves quality of life for breast cancer patients. Yet many women are not meeting physical activity recommendations once diagnosed with the disease, according to a recent study published in the journal Cancer.
Researchers assessed pre- and post-diagnosis physical activity levels in nearly 2,000 women – aged 20 to 74 years – who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2008 and 2011.
They found that 59 percent of the participants reported getting less exercise six months after their diagnosis. On average, the women reduced their weekly level of activity by roughly five hours of brisk walking.
The American Cancer Society currently advises adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise each week to prevent or manage chronic health problems. However, only 35 percent of the women in the study met that recommendation.
After taking race into account, the results revealed that black women were about 40 percent less likely than white women to meet the physical activity guidelines post-diagnosis. Additionally, black women die more often from breast cancer than other groups in the United States, the study authors note.
“Medical care providers should discuss the role physical activity plays in improving breast cancer outcomes with their patients,” said lead researcher Brionna Hair, in a news release. “And strategies that may be successful in increasing physical activity among breast cancer patients need to be comprehensively evaluated and implemented.”
As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Carol Dieball, M.S., A.C.S.M., a cancer exercise specialist at the Advocate Condell Centre Club in Libertyville, Ill. knows the toll chemotherapy and radiation can have on activity levels.
“After treatment, breast cancer patients are often left with bodies that are weakened and changed,” said Dieball. “However, exercise is a way for women to take control of their bodies again. Participants in our cancer exercise program leave feeling balanced, strong and just plain good. ”
Advocate Condell Medical Center’s brand new Cancer Resource Center offers exercise classes and other services to educate and support cancer patients, as well as their families.
For more information, visit www.advocatehealth.com/condell/cancer or call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622).
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