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Exercise Preference Patterns, Resources, and Environment Among Rural Breast Cancer Survivors


  • This project was supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division (no. PSB05-03). No personal or professional relationships that may represent a potential conflict of interest exist for this manuscript. For further information, contact: Laura Q. Rogers, MD, MPH, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, P.O. Box 19636, Springfield, IL 62794-9636; e-mail


ABSTRACT: Context:Rural breast cancer survivors may be at increased risk for inadequate exercise participation. Purpose: To determine for rural breast cancer survivors: (1) exercise preference “patterns,” (2) exercise resources and associated factors, and (3) exercise environment. Methods: A mail survey was sent to rural breast cancer survivors identified through a state cancer registry, and 483 (30%) responded. Findings: The majority (96%) were white, with mean education of 13 (±2.5) years and mean 39.0 (±21.5) months since diagnosis. Most participants (67%) preferred face-to-face counseling from an exercise specialist (27%) or other individual (40%). A third (31%) preferred home-based exercise with non face-to-face counseling from someone other than an exercise specialist. Participants preferring face-to-face counseling were more apt to prefer supervised exercise (38% vs 9%, P < 0.001) at a health club (32% vs 8%, P < 0.001). Home exercise equipment was reported by 63%, with 97% reporting home telephone and 67% reporting Internet access. Age, education, self-efficacy, treatment status, and exercise behavior were associated with exercise resources. The physical environment was often not conducive to exercise but a low crime rate and high trust in neighbors was reported. Conclusions: Rural health education programs encouraging exercise should offer multiple programming options while considering the physical environment and capitalizing on available resources and beneficial social environmental characteristics.