Why breast cancer survivors should exercise

accreditation

Excessive stress can lead to memory problems among breast cancer survivors, but exercise can help, according to new research.

"We found moderate to vigorous physical activity actually benefits women psychologically and that, in turn, helps their memory," said the study's lead author, Siobhan Phillips. She is assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Post-cancer memory issues are often attributed to chemotherapy or radiation treatments, known as "chemo brain." However, the new study findings suggest "these self-reported memory problems may be in part emotionally related," Phillips said in a university news release.

Read: Exercise may cut risk of 13 cancers

"These women are frightened, stressed, fatigued, tapped out emotionally and have low self-confidence, which can be very mentally taxing and can lead to perceived memory problems," she explained.

For the study, the researchers examined self-reported memory and exercise data collected from more than 1,800 breast cancer survivors, 362 of whom wore devices called "accelerometers" to track their movement.

Read: Physical activity may stave off cancer death

In both groups, moderate or vigorous physical activity -- such as brisk walking, biking, jogging or engaging in exercise classes -- was found to reduce stress and fatigue. This has psychological benefits and leads to better memory, the researchers said.

While the study didn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship, greater levels of physical activity were also linked to higher levels of self-confidence and less distress. These improvements were also associated with fewer perceived memory problems, the study authors added.

The findings were published July 8 in Psycho-Oncology.

Read more:

Symptoms of cancer

Treating cancer

Preventing cancer

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 687 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 8185 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 981 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.79
-0.9%
Rand - Pound
20.13
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
17.65
-0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.48
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.7%
Gold
1,711.73
-0.9%
Silver
20.31
-3.6%
Palladium
2,269.50
-2.3%
Platinum
923.00
-1.1%
Brent Crude
91.80
+3.2%
Top 40
59,345
-0.8%
All Share
65,739
-0.9%
Resource 10
63,602
-1.5%
Industrial 25
79,607
-0.6%
Financial 15
13,986
-0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE