breast cancer survivors
Cancer Fitness

Black Cancer Survivors Get Real Boost From Exercise

Regular exercise can benefit recovery of black cancer survivors, but most don’t get the recommended amount of activity, according to a recent study.

The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week for survivors. This is news that should be taken to heart by many black cancer patients because they have a higher risk of dying from their disease than other racial or ethnic groups. But, researchers said, black cancer survivors have lower levels of physical activity.

“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,” said lead author Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer in a news release from the journal Cancer.

Beebe-Dimmer is co-leader of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine, both in Detroit.

This study included 1,500 black survivors of the four most common cancers (lung, breast, prostate and colon) who completed a survey with a follow-up a year later. Of those, 60 percent reported regular physical activity, but only 24 percent said they got at least 150 minutes per week. There were no differences by gender. Prostate cancer survivors in the study were the most likely to report being physically active; lung cancer survivors reported the least amount of physical activity.

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Survivors who got exercise regularly reported higher health-related quality of life, as well as lower rates of depression. Increases in physical activity during the study also correlated with better quality of life.

Overall, the average amount of moderate-to-vigorous activity rose from 76 minutes at the start of the study to 110 minutes a year later. Only 25 percent of survivors met ACS recommendations at the beginning of the study, compared with 34 percent at the one-year follow-up.

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