Musculoskeletal changes after 1 year of exercise in older breast cancer survivors

Jessica Dobek, Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Jill A. Bennett, Lillian Nail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: We have previously reported that 1 year of supervised resistance + impact training stopped bone loss and built muscle strength in older breast cancer survivors. The purpose of this study was to determine whether these benefits persisted 1 year after completion of the intervention. Methods: Sixty-seven women from the original trial completed baseline and post-intervention body composition and muscle strength tests, and 44 women were available 1 year later for follow-up assessments. Bone mineral density (grams per square centimeter) of the hip and spine, muscle mass (kilograms), and fat mass (kilograms) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and maximal upper and lower body strength were measured by one-repetition maximum tests (kilograms). We compared between group changes across baseline (pre-intervention), 1 (post-intervention), and 2 years (1 year follow up) on study outcomes using repeated-measures analysis of covariance, adjusting for age. Results: Significant group by time interactions were found for spine bone mineral density (BMD) (p < 0.01) and lower body muscle strength (p < 0.05), with a trend for upper body muscle strength (p = 0.05). Spine BMD remained stable across intervention and follow-up periods in exercisers compared with continuous losses in controls across 1- and 2-year periods. In contrast, lower body strength increased in exercisers across the intervention, but decreased to near-baseline levels during follow-up compared with no change over either time period in controls. Conclusions: Our data suggest that spine BMD can be preserved in older breast cancer survivors even after formal exercise training stops; however, muscle strength is not similarly maintained and may require continued participation in a supervised exercise program. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Exercise programs aimed at improving musculoskeletal health should be considered in the long-term care plan for breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-311
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Bone density
  • Follow-up
  • Muscle strength
  • Neoplasms
  • Older adult
  • Resistance exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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