Exercise can relieve depression post-breast cancer


Back again to the theme of exercise and breast cancer. This time the research focuses on exercise as a tool to battle the symptoms of depression and anxiety which may be attendant to the post treatment phase.

Dr. Charles Emory at Ohio State University in Columbus and his colleagues initially assessed medical, psychological, and behavioral factors influencing physical activity among 227 breast cancer patients when the women were about 51 years old on average.

“Despite evidence of the benefits of physical activity for women with breast cancer, most women did not engage in a level consistent with public health recommendations,” Emery told Reuters Health.

To identify factors associated with physical activity over the subsequent 5 years, the researchers repeated these assessments every 4 months during the first year, and every 6 months for the following 4 years. The team reports their findings in the journal Psycho-Oncology.

Initially, 20 percent of the women achieved or exceeded the goal of a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. At the one-year assessment, 37 percent of the women achieved the same level of activity.

However, Emery’s group found just 18 percent of the women were meeting minimum physical activity recommendations after 5 years.

As noted, symptoms of depression showed a sustained negative impact on physical activity levels.

“Therefore, attention to depressive symptoms — via treatment with psychotherapy, medication, or group support, for example — would be an important first step toward rectifying the problem of low physical activity,” Emery said.

SOURCE: Psycho-Oncology, April 2009

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