Factors associated with changes in exercise behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Caroline Himbert, Cassandra A. Hathaway, Bailee Daniels, Karen Salas, Anjelica Ashworth, Biljana Gigic, Tengda Lin, Richard Viskochil, Anne C. Kirchhoff, Douglas Grossman, Jennifer Ose, Jonathan Tward, Courtney Scaife, Jane C. Figueiredo, Adetunji T. Toriola, Anna Beck, David Shibata, Brian D. Gonzalez, Cindy Matsen, Cristina ChristensonDebra S. Ma, Howard Colman, Jason P. Hunt, Kevin B. Jones, Catherine J. Lee, Mikaela Larson, Tracy Onega, Wallace L. Akerley, Christopher I. Li, Martin Schneider, Frank J. Penedo, Erin M. Siegel, Shelley S. Tworoger, Cornelia M. Ulrich, Anita R. Peoples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: There is limited information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed health behaviors among cancer patients. We examined changes in exercise behaviors since the pandemic and identified characteristics associated with these changes among cancer patients. Methods: Cancer patients (n = 1,210) completed a survey from August to September 2020 to assess COVID-19 pandemic-related changes in health behaviors and psychosocial factors. Patients were categorized into three groups: exercising less, exercising did not change, and exercising more. Patient characteristics were compared by exercise groups. Results: One-third of the patients reported a decreased amount of regular exercise, while 10% reported exercising more during the pandemic. Patients who exercised less were more likely to be unemployed/retired and have poor health status and psychosocial stressors such as disruptions in daily life while less likely to be former smokers (all p < 0.05). In contrast, patients who exercised more were younger, had stage IV diagnosis, and also reported disruptions in daily life (all p < 0.05). Patients who were living in rural areas were also more likely not to experience changes in exercise habits (all p < 0.05), although rural–urban status was not identified as a strong predictor. Conclusion: A significant proportion of cancer patients experienced changes in exercise habits, especially exercising less, during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Age, employment status, tumor stage, health status, smoking status, and psychosocial factors were associated with changes in exercise behaviors. Our results highlight the importance of promoting physical activity guidelines for cancer survivorship during the COVID-19 pandemic and may help improve the identification of cancer patients susceptible to exercising less.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-950
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Cancer epidemiology
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Covid-19
  • Exercise oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Factors associated with changes in exercise behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this