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Exercise Lowers Depression, Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients

Exercise seems to be the key in helping breast cancer patients combat depression and fatigue during cancer treatments, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Depression is one of the most common mental health concerns. About 17 million Americans will suffer from depression at some point in their lives and according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad, unable to enjoy things in life, significant changes in sleep and appetite, and lethargy.

Researchers recruited 240 women with non-metastatic breast cancer, anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks after they’d undergone cancer surgery.

One group was placed in a 10-week program focused on cognitive behavioral stress management, while the other group attended a one-day “self-help” group. Researchers also recorded how much exercise each participant was getting.

The findings reveal that women who exercised the most between the surgery and starting their assigned therapy were the ones affected least by fatigue and depression.

“Women who are physically active may also have more confidence in their own ability to continue with family-related, household, work-related, or social activities, which bring meaning and satisfaction to their lives,” Jamie M. Stagl, M.S., doctoral student at the University of Miami, said in a statement.

“This may lead to appraisals of lower fatigue, heightened quality of life, and less depression.”

Experts generally recommend to exercise at least 20 minutes every day to see the most benefit from the activity. If you cannot exercise every day, every other day is also very helpful according to the research. Exercise can take many forms — from jogging or biking, to swimming or working out at home or at a local gym.

Source: Society of Behavioral Medicine

Exercise Lowers Depression, Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Exercise Lowers Depression, Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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