Rationale for Promoting Physical Activity Among Cancer Survivors: Literature Review and Epidemiologic Examination

Paul D. Loprinzi

Hyo Lee

physical activity, exercise, accelerometry, cancer, biomarkers, epidemiology
ONF 2014, 41(2), 117-125. DOI: 10.1188/14.ONF.117-125

Purpose/Objectives: To review the extant literature on the link between physical activity and health outcomes among cancer survivors; identify evidence-based strategies to promote physical activity among this population; and conduct an epidemiologic study based on gaps from the literature review, examining the association between physical activity and various biologic markers.

Data Sources: The authors used PubMed and Google Scholar up to July 2013, as well as data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the empirical study.

Data Synthesis: Studies were examined through a systematic review process. In the epidemiologic study, 227 adult cancer survivors wore an accelerometer for four days or longer, with biologic markers (e.g., cholesterol) assessed from a blood sample.

Conclusions: The review study demonstrated that cancer survivors are relatively inactive, but physical activity may help to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and cancer-related mortality, increase cancer treatment rates, reduce pain and other side effects associated with cancer treatment, and improve physical and mental health. The epidemiologic study showed that physical activity was associated with several understudied biomarkers (e.g., neutrophils, white blood cells) that are linked with cancer recurrence, cancer-related mortality, and other chronic diseases.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses are encouraged to promote physical activity in cancer survivors.

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