Physical activity is associated with improved health outcomes for people with cancer. The study aimed to identify physical activity correlates, barriers, and preferences among women with gynecological cancer. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 101 women diagnosed with gynecological cancer (mostly ovarian cancer [59%] and endometrial cancer [23%]) within the previous 2 years, at 2 major hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Physical activity was measured for the past 7 days. Thirteen potential barriers were scored on a 5-point scale. Associations with physical activity were assessed using Spearman correlations (rs) and multivariate logistic regression. Factors associated with being sufficiently active (≥150 min/wk physical activity) were being in the follow-up phase of the cancer trajectory (odds ratio [OR], 7.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 33.4 compared with other phases) and prediagnosis physical activity (OR, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 18.5 for the highest vs lowest tertile). The most common barriers were “too tired” and “not well enough,” and both were associated with lower physical activity (rs, -0.20 and -0.22, respectively). The odds of having disease-specific barriers was higher for women with ovarian cancer (OR, 4.6; P = 0.04) and women receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy (OR, 8.3; P = 0.008). “Lack of interest” (rs, -0.26) and “never been active” (rs, -0.23) were also inversely correlated with physical activity, although less common. Forty-three percent of women indicated that they were extremely or very interested to have a one-to-one session with an exercise physiologist. Participants’ preferred time of starting a physical activity program was 3 to 6 months after treatment (26%) or during treatment (23%). Walking was the preferred type of physical activity.
Strategies to increase physical activity among women with gynecological cancer should include a focus on reducing disease-specific barriers and target women who have done little physical activity in the past or who are in the treatment phases of care.