Point in Time the FitSTEPS for Life Exercise Program Improves Quality of Life of Persons with Cancer

Friday, 26 July 2013: 10:35 AM

Barbara K. Haas, PhD, RN
College of Nursing and Health Sciences, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX
Gary Kimmel, MD
Cancer Foundation for Life, Cancer Foundation for Life, Tyler, TX

Learning Objective 1: identify a point in time exercise improves quality of life in persons with cancer.

Learning Objective 2: discuss the impact of a community-based exercise program on improving quality of life of persons with cancer over an extended time period.


Exercise has beneficial physical and psychological effects for persons with cancer. The majority of studies have been limited to early stage disease, focused on women with breast cancer, and been conducted over time frames of 6-12 weeks. It is not clear how soon the benefits of exercise are evident or if any benefits experienced can be sustained.  The purposes of this study were to (1) determine the effects of a community-based program of exercise on the QOL of persons with cancer over time and (2) establish a point in time that exercise influences QOL in cancer survivors.


Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory was used to guide this longitudinal, quasi-experimental study conducted from 2009-2011. Participants (n=701) were referred by their physician to participate in an individualized program of exercise at one of 14 community centers. Exercise was prescribed and monitored by specially trained staff using evidence-based policies and procedures.  The SF-8 Health Survey, 1-Week Recall was used to assess QOL.  Data collection took place at baseline, 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12-months.


Participants included persons at all stages of different cancer diagnoses. Analysis using one-way ANOVA supported the positive impact of exercise on QOL over time. Significant change in SF-8 scores, including both the physical component score (F=5.58, p <. 001) and mental health component score (F=6.31 p < .001), were sustainable over time. The significant improvement in QOL was evident at the one-month data collection point.


This research suggests the effectiveness of a long-term community-based program of individualized exercise in improving QOL for persons with all types and stages of cancer.  Improvements, noted at the one-month time point, appear to be sustainable for an extended time.  Results from this study have significance for practice recommendations and health policy reimbursement issues.