Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 159–167

Associations between self-reported post-diagnosis physical activity changes, body weight changes, and psychosocial well-being in breast cancer survivors

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-014-2346-5

Cite this article as:
Phillips, S.M. & McAuley, E. Support Care Cancer (2015) 23: 159. doi:10.1007/s00520-014-2346-5



Decreased physical activity and weight gain post-breast cancer diagnosis are associated with negative psychosocial, health, and disease outcomes, but little is known about how these factors interact. The purpose of the present study was to conduct a preliminary examination of the association between post-diagnosis physical activity changes, weight changes, and psychosocial well-being in breast cancer survivors.


We examined the association between retrospectively collected, self-reported post-diagnosis changes in physical activity and body weight and post-diagnosis fatigue, anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in breast cancer survivors (N = 1,348) using univariate analyses of covariance with Bonferroni’s adjustment.


After adjusting for covariates, maintaining and/or increasing physical activity post-diagnosis was significantly (p < 0.05 for all), independently associated with lower fatigue, anxiety, depression and stress and higher physical self-worth, physical, social, emotional, functional and breast cancer specific well-being and overall HRQOL (effect sizes = 0.23 to 0.60). Maintaining and/or losing weight was significantly (p < 0.05), independently associated with lower fatigue and higher physical self-worth, physical and breast cancer-specific well-being, and overall HRQOL (effect sizes = .28 to 0.87). There were no significant interaction effects between physical activity and body weight changes.


This study provides preliminary data to suggest that maintaining or increasing physical activity and controlling weight post-diagnosis may be independently, positively associated with psychosocial well-being and HRQOL in breast cancer survivors. In addition, weight management effects may be larger and more outcome-specific while physical activity effects may be more general. Future research is warranted to replicate and confirm these findings.


Physical activity Body weight Breast cancer survivors Quality of life Fatigue Depression Self-esteem Stress 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwesternUniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Community HealthUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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