Physical Activity Affects Quality of Life in Black Cancer Survivors

A study examined the association between physical activity and quality of life in black cancer survivors.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends specific nutrition and exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Per the ACS, survivors of cancer should exercise regularly; specifically, ACS suggests:

  • Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis.
  • Aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week.

Despite the ACS guidelines, the authors of the present study note that the 150 weekly minutes of physical activity is a goal many survivors do not meet. Therefore, the authors stated, “This study examined the patterns and correlates of meeting ACS [physical activity] recommendations in the Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors (ROCS) cohort of African American cancer survivors.”

Survivors participating in the Detroit ROCS filled out baseline and annual follow-up surveys pertaining to their health and associated behaviors—including an assessment of physical activity. Health-related quality of life was measured using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy and Patient‐Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System instruments.

The study was published in Cancer.

Physical Activity Good for Quality of Life

Final analysis included 1,500 ROCS patients, of whom 60% said they engaged in physical activity regularly. Only about a quarter of the cohort (24%) successfully attained at least 150 weekly minutes of activity. No sex-related differences were observed. Survivors of prostate cancer were the most likely to regularly partake in physical activity, and lung cancer survivors were the least likely (P=0.022). Patients who successfully took part in regular physical activity reported higher health-related quality of life (P<0.001) and lower depression (P=0.040).

“Identifying barriers to participation in regular exercise and developing interventions to reduce these barriers in African American cancer survivors will be critical for improving outcomes in this population and minimizing cancer health disparities,” study author Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, MPH, PhD, of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University in Detroit, said in a press release.

Dr. Beebe-Dimmer and her colleagues concluded in their abstract, “Just 24% of African American cancer survivors reported meeting the ACS guidelines for PA at the baseline, but it was encouraging to see increases in activity over time. Because of the established benefits of regular exercise observed in this study and others, identifying and reducing barriers to regular PA among African American cancer survivors are critical for improving outcomes and minimizing disparities.”