Obesity and Exercise

  • Karen Basen-Engquist
Part of the MD Anderson Cancer Care Series book series (MDCCS)


Physical inactivity and obesity are common problems among cancer survivors. Physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors for several forms of cancer, and weight gain and declines in physical activity often occur after a cancer diagnosis and during treatment. Low physical activity has been shown to lead to poor outcomes in breast and colon cancer survivors, and exercise interventions for survivors improve physical functioning and quality of life in several domains. Some evidence suggests that weight changes in breast cancer survivors may affect disease-free survival, but the evidence is conflicting on this point. Obesity can decrease cancer survivors’ quality of life, as well as increase their risks for comorbid health problems. The American Cancer Society has recently published nutrition, physical activity, and weight management recommendations for cancer survivors. Survivorship care should include giving survivors access to this information. In addition, encouraging survivors to adopt evidence-based behavioral strategies such as setting goals, monitoring themselves, changing their environment, and seeking social support can facilitate healthful behavior changes.


Physical Activity Cancer Survivor Breast Cancer Survivor Exercise Intervention Weight Management 
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Copyright information

© The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Basen-Engquist
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Science, Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and SurvivorshipThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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