Physical activity and sedentary behavior in breast cancer survivors: New insight into activity patterns and potential intervention targets

Siobhan M. Phillips, Kevin W. Dodd, Jeremy Steeves, James McClain, Catherine M. Alfano, Edward McAuley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Inactivity and sedentary behavior are related to poorer health outcomes in breast cancer survivors. However, few studies examining these behaviors in survivors have used objective measures, considered activities other than moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity (MVPA) and/or sedentary behavior (i.e. low intensity activities) or compared survivors to healthy controls. The purpose of the present study is to compare accelerometer-measured activity of various intensities (total, light, lifestyle, MVPA) and sedentary behavior between breast cancer survivors and non-cancer controls. Methods An imputation-based approach of independent sample t-tests adjusting for multiple comparisons was used to compare estimates of participation in each activity and sedentary behavior between survivors [n = 398; M(SD)age = 56.95 (9.11)] and block-matched non-cancer controls [n = 1120; M(SD)age = 54.88 (16.11)]. Potential moderating effects of body mass index (BMI), age, and education were also examined. Results Breast cancer survivors registered less daily total (282.8 v. 346.9) light (199.1 v. 259.3) and lifestyle (62.0 v. 71.7) activity minutes and more MVPA (21.6 v. 15.9) and sedentary behavior (555.7 v. 500.6) minutes than controls (p < 0.001 for all). These relationships were largely consistent across BMI, age and education. On average, survivors spent an estimated 66.4% of their waking time sedentary and 31.1% in light/lifestyle activity and 2.6% in MVPA. Conclusions Breast cancer survivors are more sedentary and participate in less low intensity activity than controls. Although survivors registered more MVPA, these levels were insufficient. Future research should explore these differences and potential benefits of targeting low intensity activities and reducing sedentary time in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-404
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical activity and sedentary behavior in breast cancer survivors: New insight into activity patterns and potential intervention targets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this