A pilot study of a physical activity intervention targeted towards women at increased risk for breast cancer


Correspondence to: Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, 3855 Health Sciences Drive, #0901, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093-0901, USA. E-mail: sjhartman@ucsd.edu



The objective was to pilot test a physical activity intervention targeted towards women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer.


Sedentary women (n = 27) with at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer but no personal breast cancer diagnosis received a print-based physical activity intervention. The intervention was a 12-week theory-based and individually tailored physical activity intervention targeted towards women with a family history of breast cancer. Participants' minutes of physical activity, worry about breast cancer, perceived risk of developing breast cancer, and perceived control over breast cancer risk were assessed at baseline and 12 weeks.


There was a significant increase in minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity from baseline to 12 weeks (t = 4.93, p < 0.001), with a mean increase in physical activity of 130.56 min/week (SD = 137.50). At 12 weeks, 41% met the American College of Sports Medicine criteria of engaging in 150 min or more of moderate intensity activity. Regression models indicate that change in perceived risk of breast cancer was significantly associated with change in physical activity (t = −2.36, p = 0.03, r = 0.34), with decreases in perceived risk associated with increases in physical activity over time.


Findings suggest that a targeted intervention can increase physical activity and decrease perceived risk of breast cancer. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.