Motivation, exercise, and stress in breast cancer survivors

Brandi T. Cuevas, Daniel C. Hughes, Dorothy Long Parma, Rose A. Treviño-Whitaker, Sagar Ghosh, Rong Li, Amelie G. Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Reduced stress and reduced risk of cancer recurrence are among the many benefits of physical activity (PA) for cancer survivors. Exercise behaviors are linked to motivational factors. We investigated the associations between motivational profile, self-reported levels of PA and stress, and mental functioning in 94 posttreatment breast cancer survivors who voluntarily enrolled in an exercise program. Methods: Participants completed the Apter Motivational Style Profile (AMSP), Lifetime of Physical Activity (LTPA) Questionnaire, International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), Medical Outcomes Short Form SF-36® (SF-36), and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and provided 10 saliva specimens (to measure cortisol levels). PA levels were calculated in metabolic equivalent hours per week (MET-hours/week). Results: Participants reported high levels of current and historical PA (M=39.2 MET-h/week, SD=39.7; M=14.2 MET-h/week, SD=15.4, respectively). They also reported high levels of stress (M=33.6, SD=4.5) coupled with low mental functionality as measured by SF-36 mental component scale (MCS) (M=44.4, SD=8.8). PSS was negatively associated with MCS (r=-0.27, p=0.009). Salivary cortisol was not associated with any measure. Participants had a conformist ("follow rules") and alloic ("about others") motivational profile. No motivational, exercise history, or stress variables were associated with current PA. Conclusions: As expected, participants reported higher levels of stress and lower mental functioning. Participants presented a unique motivational profile relative to the general population. Further research into the associations of motivation, exercise behaviors, and stress is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Breast cancer
  • Exercise
  • Motivation
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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