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Breast Cancer Patients are not Exercising Enough, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 09, 2014 10:07 AM EDT

A good active lifestyle is vital in leading an overall healthy life. Studies have found that physical activity in combination with other healthy habits can keep some diseases at bay. In a new study, researchers examined the activity levels of people who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The team found that even though breast cancer patients are recommended to exercise in order to boost survival rates and improve life quality, patients are still not exercising enough.

For this study, the team headed by Brionna Hair, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed data on 1,735 breast cancer patients between the ages of 20 and 74 from 44 counties in North Carolina. The female patients were diagnosed with invasive tumors between 2008 and 2011. The team focused particularly on the women's activity levels.

They found that only 35 percent of the survivors met the national physical activity recommendations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer Society's guidelines state that adults should be active for at least 150 minutes per weak if the regimen is moderate to intense. For vigorous-intensity activity, at least 75 minutes each week can help with chronic disease prevention and management.

The researchers added that 59 percent of the women reported lower physical activity levels half a year after their diagnosis. The average decrease in activity level was around five hours of brisk walking per week. African American patients were even more likely to not meet the recommended activity levels when compared to white patients. The researchers stated that encouraging breast cancer patients to maintain or increase their activity levels is vital.

"Medical care providers should discuss the role physical activity plays in improving breast cancer outcomes with their patients, and strategies that may be successful in increasing physical activity among breast cancer patients need to be comprehensively evaluated and implemented," said Hair reported in the press release.

The study was published in Cancer.

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