Light to moderate aerobic exercise can help breast cancer survivors quell the depression and anxiety that often accompany their illness.
In a study of 30 women who had undergone surgery for breast cancer, researchers at the Division of Kinesiology of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, randomly assigned the women to exercise or sedentary activity for 10-week periods. All took standard tests for depression and anxiety.
The researchers found that depression scores decreased 44% for the exercisers and increased 13% for those who were sedentary after the first 10-week session. After the second 10 weeks, when the groups rotated, depression scores decreased 42% in the group that had been sedentary but started exercising. In exercisers, state anxiety decreased by 16% and trait anxiety decreased by 9%. Sedentary women who started exercising in the second 10 weeks experienced a 26% decline in state anxiety and a 9% decrease in trait anxiety.
Voelker R. Beat Breast Cancer Anxiety. JAMA. 1998;279(8):574. doi:10.1001/jama.279.8.574-JQU81031-3-1