Many supervised exercise rehabilitation clinics have successfully managed treatment-related side effects, decreased co-morbidities and improved quality of life in cancer survivors. Yet the challenge remains for health professionals to successfully influence their patient’s physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour outside of supervised contact hours. This study examined the effect of an individually tailored text messaging intervention, in conjunction with a supervised exercise rehabilitation program, on the sedentary behaviour and physical activity of cancer survivors.
All colorectal and prostate cancer survivors enrolled in a four-week exercise rehabilitation clinic (n=36; age: 65±10 years; time since treatment completion: 3.7±2.6 years) were randomized to receive either an individually tailored text messaging intervention for 12-weeks, or usual care. Sedentary behaviour, physical activity, exercise capacity, muscular strength and physical function were measured at baseline, 4 weeks (post-exercise clinic) and 12 weeks.
The exercise clinic significantly (p<0.05) improved exercise capacity, muscular strength and physical function in both groups, with no difference (p>0.05) between groups. The intervention group significantly reduced their sitting time [-44 (95%CI -86, -6) mins; p=0.024] at 12 weeks compared to usual care, but moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was not different [-2 (-14, 9) mins; p=0.689] between groups.
An individually tailored text messaging intervention is effective in reducing sedentary behaviour in cancer survivors. Health services should consider incorporating exercise rehabilitation utilising a whole-of-day approach to improve exercise capacity, muscular strength and physical function, as well as sedentary behaviour in their patients. Further exploration of effective strategies to improve physical activity outside of supervised contact hours in cancer survivors is warranted.