Health & Diet

Exercise May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Stay Sharp

By Wendy Haaf 

Many women successfully treated for breast cancer find themselves with lingering brain fog and concentration problems afterward, but physical activity may be an effective solution, according to study results published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine randomly assigned 87 physically inactive women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer less than five years earlier to either a control group or an exercise group. Members of the exercise group received an activity tracker and instruction on how to gradually build up to at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity, along with regular phone and e-mail check-ins from counsellors throughout the study. All participants underwent a battery of cognitive tests at the start and end of the 12-week study period.

Scores on a test of processing speed (which plays an important role in learning and memory) more than doubled among exercisers, improving in step with their physical activity levels. Moreover, the exercisers reported feeling that they were thinking more clearly.

Photo: iStock/FatCamera.