Breast cancer survivors can now get up and get moving. Breast cancer survivors who exercised, particularly older women, reported higher body esteem and better mood than sedentary breast cancer survivors in a new study.
Researchers compared 40 women who said they regularly exercised to 79 sedentary women, all early-stage breast cancer survivors. Regular exercisers reported significantly more positive attitudes toward their physical condition and sexual attractiveness, significantly less confusion, fatigue, depression and mood disturbance, and higher vigor than sedentary women. All exercisers, regardless of age, had higher physical condition scores than their sedentary peers.
Older exercisers reported the best mood states, i.e. higher vigor and less confusion, anger, fatigue, depression and total mood disturbance, compared to sedentary women regardless of age and younger exercisers. Investigators suggest regular exercise may produce similar benefits in both young and older women but the effects may be accentuated among older survivors because they experience fewer disturbances in mood and body esteem. As expected, the sedentary group was significantly heavier and less fit than the regular exercisers in that they were able to complete a walk test in less time. Previous studies show regular exercise improves body esteem in non-cancer populations, as well. These findings are especially important, say researchers, because breast cancer treatments are associated with fatigue, nausea, weight gain and low body image.