Despite evidence of the positive effect that exercise can have on cancer care and recovery, many patients with cancer are reluctant to exercise and few discuss it with their oncologists, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
The study is part of a series of investigations looking at exercise habits among patients with cancer. For this investigation, researchers qualitatively analyzed semistructured interviews with 20 adults (half male and half aged 65 years or older) with Stage IIIB or IV nonsmall cell lung cancer. Participants were questioned about their levels of activity, the influence of their symptoms on their activities, perceived barriers and facilitators for exercise, and exercise-related instructions received from their professional caregivers.
"Participants overwhelmingly cited usual daily activities as their source of 'exercise,'" say the authors. Symptoms, particularly treatment-related, discouraged participation, with fear of harm being a significant concern only among younger women. Participants recognized exercise as important for physical and mental well being but seldom as a means to mitigate symptoms. Although respondents said they preferred to receive guidance from their oncologist, none reported receiving more than general encouragement to "stay active." Participants accepted a lack of direction as approval of their current activity levels. Additionally, participants appeared less receptive to guidance from ancillary health professionals, say the authors.