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Quantifying Physical Activity and the Associated Barriers for Women With Ovarian Cancer
  1. David Mizrahi, MSc*,,
  2. Fiona Naumann, PhD*,,
  3. Carolyn Broderick, PhD*,
  4. Juliane Samara, NP,
  5. Mary Ryan, PhD§ and
  6. Michael Friedlander, FRACP, PhD*,§
  1. *School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales Australia;
  2. NSW Cancer Survivors Centre, Sydney;
  3. The Canberra Hospital, Canberra; and
  4. §Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, Australia.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to David Mizrahi, MSc, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Medicine, University of New South Wales Australia, UNSW Medicine Lifestyle Clinic, 38 Botany St, Sydney, Australia. E-mail: d.mizrahi{at}


Objective The purpose of this study was to quantify physical activity levels and determine the barriers to physical activity for women with ovarian cancer.

Materials and Methods Women with ovarian cancer from 3 oncology clinics enrolled in the cross-sectional study. Physical activity and barriers to physical activity were measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and Perceived Physical Activity Barriers scale, respectively. Demographic, medical, and anthropometric data were obtained from medical records.

Results Ninety-five women (response rate, 41%), with a mean (SD) age of 61 (10.6) years, a body mass index of 26.5 (6.8) kg/m2, and 36.6 (28.2) months since diagnosis, participated in the study. The majority of the participants had stage III (32%) or IV (32%) ovarian cancer, were undergoing chemotherapy (41%), and had a history of chemotherapy (93%). The majority of the participants reduced their physical activity after diagnosis, with 19% meeting recommended physical activity guidelines. The participants undergoing treatment reported lower moderate-vigorous physical activity compared with those not undergoing active treatment (mean [SD], 42 [57] vs 104 [119] min/wk; P < 0.001) and less total physical activity barriers (mean [SD], 49 vs 47; P > 0.4). The greatest barriers to physical activity included fatigue (37.8%), exercise not in routine (34.7%), lack of self-discipline (32.6%), and procrastination (27.4%).

Conclusions Women with ovarian cancer have low levels of physical activity. There are disease-specific general barriers to physical activity participation. The majority of the participants reduced their physical activity after diagnosis, with these patients reporting a higher number of total barriers. Behavioral strategies are required to increase physical activity adherence in this population to ensure that recommended guidelines are met to achieve the emerging known benefits of exercise oncology.

  • Cancer
  • Physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Oncology
  • Barriers
  • Quality of life

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  • Supported by the University of New South Wales Start-Up Grant.

  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.