COLUMBUS, Ohio The first study to monitor physical activity in breast cancer patients for five years suggests that patients with greater depressive symptoms and a lower emotional quality of life are less likely to exercise as part of their recovery than are patients reporting less distress.
While the findings may seem intuitive, they also add weight to a growing pool of data supporting the need to concentrate on breast cancer patients' emotional health soon after they are diagnosed, researchers say.
Overall, the women as a group increased their physical activity during the first 18 months after diagnosis and treatment, but then their physical activity gradually declined over the remaining 3 1/2 years.
Poor physical health also was associated with less physical activity over all five years. On the other hand, family support appeared to slow the decline in physical activity over the last 42 months of the study.
Depressive symptoms can include low mood, low energy, sleep difficulty and a lack of interest in, or withdrawal from, normal activities. Emotional quality of health is a broad composite measure of social and psychological factors, including mood, tension and the presence or lack of social support.
"This suggests that stress in the form of depressive symptoms is related to actual health behavior over a sustained period of time," said Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
"We know from other studies that exercise is associated with generally better quality of life, usually lower symptom reporting, and enhanced health outcomes in women with breast cancer. These data suggest that depressive symptoms are associated with low exercise activity, providing further evidence in support of the need to evaluate and address depressive symptoms early in the course of illness and treatment."
The study also reinforced the idea that sticking to an exercis
|Contact: Charles Emery|
Ohio State University