Background: Moderate-intensity physical activity in women with breast cancer has been reported to improve physical and psychological outcomes. However, initiation and adherence to a routine physical activity program for cancer survivors after therapy may be challenging.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and effect of a community-based exercise intervention on physical and psychological symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer survivors.
Methods: A 1-group pretest-posttest design was used to evaluate a thrice weekly, 4- to 6-month supervised exercise intervention on symptoms and quality of life. Data were collected at baseline and end of the intervention, using the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Checklist, the Symptom Distress Scale, the Centers for Epidemiology Scale for Depression, and the Medical Outcomes Short Form.
Results: There were 26 participants, with a mean (SD) age of 51.3 (6.2) years; most were married, well educated, and employed. The intervention was delivered at 3 community fitness centers, and adherence ranged from 75% to 98%. Vasomotor, musculoskeletal, and cognitive symptoms were common, but only muscle stiffness, fatigue, and depression significantly changed over time (P = .04, .05, and .01, respectively). Quality of life improved significantly in the areas of physical, emotional, and social function; pain; vitality; and mental health.
Conclusions: Providing an exercise intervention in the community where women live and work is feasible and improves physical, psychological, and functional well-being.
Implications for Practice: Exercise is a key component of cancer rehabilitation and needs to be integrated into our standard care.