So, what's the key to motivating breast cancer survivors to "get out there and get healthy"? Well, surely it has something to do with a two-year program with weekly support group meetings, and individual counseling sessions. Or, for cyberspace fans, a virtual program that includes a chat room, an expert facilitator, and online counseling sessions. Or, if these don't fit the bill, maybe it's best to just sign up for the counseling sessions - twice. Or...
Maybe handing the patient a $20 pedometer will do the trick.
This is quite a testimony to the power of personal encouragement. Researchers from the University of Alberta studied the difference in exercise activities among breast cancer survivors. 377 women, divided into three groups, were followed over a 12-week period. All three groups were encouraged to exercise 30 minutes a day, five days per week.
Two groups, however, were given some simple additional encouragement. One group was given a step pedometer - a device that automatically records the number of steps walked. The third group was given both the step pedometer and a physical activity guidebook.
The groups given the pedometers and guidebooks increased their activity levels by an average of 70 to 90 minutes per week - compared to an average of 30 minutes per week for the control group. This is significant. Prior studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight is a key factor in lowering the risk of both initial and recurring breast cancer.
As an added benefit, the women who exercised more reported less fatigue, greater energy, and an overall improvement in their quality of life.
So, while high tech medical interventions and intensive counseling programs are great, sometimes it's the simpler things that are most effective. You know, things like saying to people, "Come on - you can do this."To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about pedometers, see this from About.com.