Nearly four of every five breast cancer survivors do not meet national exercise recommendations 10 years after their diagnosis, study results showed.
At 2-year follow-up, 34% of women included in the study met US physical activity guidelines. The adherence rate increased to 39.5% at 5 years but fell to 21.4% at 10 years after diagnosis.
“Most breast cancer survivors are not following even the minimum recommendations for physical activity and their activity levels significantly decline over time,” Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told HemOnc Today. “This is concerning because research suggests that physical activity can improve many aspects of the survivors’ health-related quality of life, and increased physical activity is associated with improved survival.”
Limited data exist on the prevalence of physical activity and long-term trends following breast cancer diagnosis, according to researchers.
McTiernan and colleagues identified 631 women aged 18 to 64 years who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, then assessed how many hours per week of recreational aerobic activity each woman performed.
Women were followed for 10 years. Physical activity was assessed at baseline, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.
Before breast cancer diagnosis, 34% of women met physical activity guidelines. Less than 8% of women met guideline goals during all follow-up times. During the 10-year follow-up, recreational activity decreased by an average of 4.3 hours per week.
Women who met physical activity guidelines before their diagnosis were more likely to meet guidelines at both the 5-year follow-up (OR=2.76; 95% CI, 1.85-4.1) and 10-year follow-up (OR=3.35; 95% CI, 2.13-5.28).
“Physicians should feel comfortable in recommending an active lifestyle for their patients,” McTiernan said. “The American Cancer Society and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate or greater intensity aerobic activity, plus two to three sessions per week of strength training.”
Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, can be reached email@example.com.
Disclosure: McTiernan reports no relevant financial disclosures.