A new study published this week online has revealed that women’s activity levels decrease significantly once diagnosed with breast cancer despite the fact that increased physical activity would aid in their recovery and survivability rates. Physicians are searching for ways to encourage breast cancer patients to refrain from sedentary lifestyles; could a treadmill desk offer a potential solution?
The study conducted at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina used data from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study to measure the effect of activity levels in women after a diagnosis of breast cancer. The study involved a total of 1,735 North Carolina women previously diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between the ages of 20 to 74 from 2008 thru 2011.
The researchers found that 65% of these women fell short of the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (e.g. walking). Almost 60% of the women reported a decrease in activity after diagnosis.
On average the women reported a reduction in activity equivalent to 5 hours of brisk walking per week post diagnosis. The decrease in activity was even more profound among African American women.
In an interview with Reuters, researcher Andrew Olshan related that “More women with breast cancer should increase their participation in physical activity after the diagnosis of breast cancer. Additional efforts to increase physical activity among African American women are warranted given their lower levels of physical activity and higher rates of disease and poorer survival.”
That is a great recommendation but since studies are showing decreases in physical activity the question becomes how to successfully change the behavior. Previous studies have shown that women are reluctant to exercise for a variety of reasons ranging from self-perception, safety, lack of time and/or resources. Add a diagnosis of breast cancer into the mix and it is no surprise that activity levels continue to plummet.
One potential answer may be a treadmill desk.
“We truly believe that a treadmill desk would allow these women a greater opportunity to fit in a healthy dose of activity into their daily lives without the associated security risks of walking alone or time constraints’” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. “A treadmill desk at the office or the home would allow them to stay active well beyond the minimal health recommendations of governmental health officials as well.”
Current statistics show that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Physical activity has been shown to cut an individual’s risk factor by as much as 50% and increase survivability rates as well. It is imperative that we examine measures to decrease sedentary behavior and introduce environmental changes that promote physical activity to impact this health concern.