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Exercise Reduces Depression and Fatigue during Breast Cancer Treatment

Update Date: Apr 14, 2012 12:24 AM EDT

 

Photo: Flickr/daveynin
Photo: Flickr/daveynin

Exercise during breast cancer treatment might reduce patients' depression and fatigue, according to a new study.

 

Women who are physically active during treatment have less depression and an enhanced quality of life and report less debilitating fatigue, University of Miami(UM) researchers say. 

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"Women who are physically active may also have more confidence in their own ability to continue with family-related, household, work-related, or social activities, which bring meaning and satisfaction to their lives," says Jamie M. Stagl, M.S., doctoral student in Clinical Health Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM and lead author of the study. "This may lead to appraisals of lower fatigue, heightened quality of life, and less depression."

The researchers studied the reported physical activity of 240 women recently diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer and recruited from four to 10 weeks post-surgery. Subjects participated in a 10-week, group-based Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) intervention, or a one-day psychoeducation "self-help" comparison group. In addition, researchers monitored the women's reported physical activity levels.

While these researchers have previously shown that stress management improves breast cancer treatment, the current study reveals that there are additional benefits for women who are also physically active during treatment.

"Women who increased the amount of time they spent being physically active between the weeks after surgery and their adjuvant therapy had less 'fatigue disruption' - their fatigue did not disrupt their ability to perform everyday activities," Stagl says. "They also showed a decrease in depressed mood and an increase in quality of life."

The study, titled "Physical Activity Adds to the Effects of Stress Management Intervention on Fatigue Interference, Depression, and Functional Quality of Life During Treatment for Breast Cancer," was funded by the National Cancer Institute. 

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