International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Open Access

ISSN: 2329-9096

+44 1300 500008


Physical Activities and Distress among Participants of a Cancer Wellness Centre: A Community-Based Pilot Study

Mara L Leimanis and Tanya R Fitzpatrick

Background: Severe distress in patients has been negatively correlated with treatment compliance and treatment outcomes. Cancer survivors who have been diagnosed and undergone treatment may be subject to increased distress, anxiety and depression. Little research has been conducted using physical activities as a means of mediating distress among cancer survivors in a community setting. Objective: This study explored the relationship between physical activities and distress among participants of a cancer wellness centre in Montreal, Quebec. Methods: Using a longitudinal design and data from participants (N=44), a distress assessment was administered at Time 1, and three months later at Time 2. The Distress Thermometer (DT), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) were used to assess an individual’s psychological distress. Physical activities were measured using the Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks (METs) from the Compendium of Physical Activities classification system. Results: T-tests and regression analysis indicated that at Time 1 participation in physical activities had a significant inverse relationship with distress, in that as participation increased, distress decreased. At Time 2, three months later participation in physical activities was also associated with decreased distress especially as measured by the HADS. Participation in physical activities almost reached significance with the DT as well. Conclusions: The results suggest that distress may be reduced by participation in physical activities such as gym, yoga and/or Qi Gong among cancer survivors at a cancer wellness centre. Clinical implications include promoting the benefits of physical activities and exercise among cancer survivors as they relate to distress and other major health outcomes during the treatment and post-treatment phase. Implications for future research include the need to corroborate results using a larger sample assessing other supportive activities as they also relate to the outcome of distress.