Guides and pedometers may encourage exercise in breast cancer patients

In collaboration with the Press Association

Giving exercise guides to breast cancer patients may be more effective than simply advising them to be physically active, researchers have found. Scientists at the University of Alberta found that giving breast cancer survivors an exercise workbook and/or a pedometer helped them to exercise more than if they were merely recommended to exercise. Research has previously shown that higher levels of physical activity may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Dr Jeffrey Vallance, lead author and a researcher with the Alberta Cancer Board, commented: "People want to help themselves, but we need to find practical ways to support them beyond telling them what to do. "In this study, offering these women simple, low cost tools helped them get active and led to important benefits." In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers followed 377 breast cancer survivors for 12 weeks. All of the participants were advised to perform moderate to vigorous exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week. Some were also given a pedometer to measure the amount of distance covered, a printed exercise guidebook, or both. The researchers found that participants who were given an additional exercise aid reported significantly higher activity levels than those who only received a recommendation to exercise, with activity levels increasing by an average of 70 to 90 minutes per week. In addition, the more active women reported less fatigue and a better overall quality of life. Professor Kerry Courneya, senior author and Canada Research chair at the university's faculty of physical education, added: "We are excited about the results. At a cost of less than $20 (£10) for either the book or pedometer, this is a promising way to help potentially thousands of cancer patients and survivors."