Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 283–288 | Cite as

Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time of breast cancer survivors, and associations with adiposity: findings from NHANES (2003–2006)

  • Brigid M. LynchEmail author
  • David W. Dunstan
  • Genevieve N. Healy
  • Elisabeth Winkler
  • Elizabeth Eakin
  • Neville Owen
Original paper



Obesity and physical inactivity are poor prognostic indicators for breast cancer. Studies to date have relied on self-report measures of physical activity, which tend mainly to assess moderate-to-vigorous intensity leisure-time physical activity. We report the cross-sectional associations of objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary time with adiposity in a sample of breast cancer survivors from the United States.


One hundred and eleven women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 reported a history of breast cancer. Participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days, and activity levels were summarized as moderate-to-vigorous intensity (accelerometer counts/min ≥1,952), light intensity (counts/min 100–1,951), and sedentary time (counts/min <100). Anthropometric measures were taken by study staff at examination centers.


Participants spent the majority of their day in sedentary time (66%) or in light intensity activities (33%). Log moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity was negatively associated with adiposity (waist circumference β = −9.805 [95% CI: −15.836, −3.775]; BMI β = −3.576 [95% CI: −6.687, −0.464]). Light intensity physical activity was negatively associated with adiposity; however, the fully adjusted models did not retain statistical significance. Similarly, sedentary time was positively associated with adiposity, but the fully adjusted models were not statistically significant.


This is the first study to describe the objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary time of breast cancer survivors. Increasing moderate-to-vigorous and light intensity physical activity, and decreasing sedentary time, may assist with weight management and improve other metabolic health outcomes for breast cancer survivors.


Breast neoplasms Adiposity Waist circumference Body mass index Health behavior 



The authors thank Dr. Charles Matthews (Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute) for the provision of, and expertise relating to, the accelerometer data reduction syntax. Lynch is supported by NHMRC Program Grant funding (#301200); Dunstan is supported by a Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Public Health Research Fellowship; Healy is supported by a NHMRC (#569861)/National Heart Foundation of Australia (PH 08B 3905) Postdoctoral Fellowship; Eakin is supported by a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (#511001); Owen is supported by a Queensland Health Core Research Infrastructure grant and by NHMRC Program Grant funding (#301200).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigid M. Lynch
    • 1
    Email author
  • David W. Dunstan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Genevieve N. Healy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elisabeth Winkler
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Eakin
    • 1
  • Neville Owen
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Research InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Exercise and Nutritions SciencesDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Vario Health InstituteEdith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia

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