Background

Independent exercise beyond supervised sessions can help program participants achieve recommended exercise levels and contribute to health benefits. However, independent exercise is rarely reported, making it unclear how much program effects may be attributed to the supervised sessions. The aim of this study was to describe independent exercise during a videoconference-delivered exercise program for cancer survivors.

Methods

Cancer survivors (N = 46) completed an 8-week program that included videoconference-delivered (i.e., Zoom) exercise sessions once per week and three behavior change discussions. Each week, participants reported frequency, duration, intensity, type, and context (e.g., where, type, with whom) of independent aerobic and resistance exercise.

Results

Participants (mean ± SD age = 59 ± 10 years; 96% female) had been diagnosed with either ovarian (61%), breast (30%), colorectal (4%), or other (4%) types of cancer. Days per week of independent exercise were 2.7 ± 2.7 for light, 2.8 ± 2.2 for moderate, and 0.67 ± 1.3 for vigorous aerobic exercise. For resistance exercise the days per week performed was 1.3 ± 1.5. Median weekly independent minutes were 60 (range: 0–120) for light aerobic, 120 (range: 36–270) for moderate-to-vigorous aerobic, and 30 (range: 0–60) for resistance exercise. Independent exercise performed was most frequently brisk walking or weightlifting at home or in the neighborhood and with a spouse/partner, other family, or friends.

Conclusion

Most participants engaged in substantial independent exercise outside of the supervised sessions. These findings provide detailed contextual information regarding independent exercise during an 8-week program and have implications for interpreting program effectiveness.

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