Physical function and associations with diet and exercise: Results of a cross-sectional survey among elders with breast or prostate cancer.


BACKGROUND: Functional decline threatens independent living and is common among individuals diagnosed with cancer, especially those who are elderly. The purpose of this study was to explore whether dietary and exercise practices are associated with physical function status among older cancer survivors. METHODS: Mailed surveys were used to ascertain data on physical function, dietary fat, fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption, and exercise among elderly diagnosed with early stage (I-II) breast (N = 286) or prostate cancer (N = 402) within the past 18 months. RESULTS: Sixty-one percent of respondents reported diets with <30% of energy from fat, 20.4% reported F&V intakes of 5+ daily servings, and 44.6% reported regular vigorous exercise. Significant, independent associations were found between physical functioning and reported dietary fat intake, F&V consumption, and exercise. A simultaneous multiple regression model controlled for age, race, gender, time since diagnosis and concurrent health behaviors yielded the following estimates: (1) 0.2 increase in the SF-36 physical function subscale (PFS) score with each reported 1% decrease in percent energy from fat (p < .0001); (2) 0.9 increase in the SF-36 PFS score for each reported serving of F&V/day (p = .0049); and (3) 15.4 increase in the SF-36 PFS score with a positive response for regular vigorous exercise (p < .0001). CONCLUSIONS: Results of this cross-sectional survey suggest that regular vigorous exercise and consumption of diets low in fat and rich in F&Vs are associated with higher levels of physical functioning among older cancer survivors. Interventions that promote healthful lifestyle change may deliver considerable benefit within this ever increasing and vulnerable population.






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Publication Info

Demark-Wahnefried, Wendy, Elizabeth C Clipp, Miriam C Morey, Carl F Pieper, Richard Sloane, Denise Clutter Snyder and Harvey J Cohen (2004). Physical function and associations with diet and exercise: Results of a cross-sectional survey among elders with breast or prostate cancer. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 1(1). p. 16. 10.1186/1479-5868-1-16 Retrieved from

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Miriam C. Morey

Professor Emeritus of Medicine

The general focus of Dr. Morey's work is exercise and aging. All of her research examines how physical activity, exercise training, or physical fitness influence the physical functioning and/or pyschosocial quality of life of older adults. She directs a supervised hospital-based program for older adults, which is used to examine longitudinally the effects of exercise training on the musculoskeletal, articular, and cardiorespiratory systems. Furthermore, she has a number of studies that examine how system-wide impairments serve as preclinical indicators of disability and overall decline in the quality of life of older adults. Ongoing studies examine the role of exercise training in attenuation or reversal of functional decline and examination of the effectivenes of different methods of physical activity counseling for home-based exercise.
Dr. Morey's research evolves directly from three sources: (1) primary analyses of clinical trials regarding the impact of exercise on a specific outcome, (2) longitudinal analyses of participants in ongoing clinical exercise programs, and (3) secondary analyses of clinical trials which involve exercise or physical activity.
Although physical activity and exercise are the interventions of interest in all of these studies, the outcomes of interest vary considerably. Within the broad domain of aging, Dr. Morey has examined the impact of exercise on physical performance, well-being, sleep quality, disability, and functional limitations. More recently, Dr. Morey has several studies focusing on the effect of tailored telephone physical activity counseling to improve function in elders. Specific studies are targeted to newly diagnosed cancer survivors, long-term cancer survivors, and frail elders in geriatric and primary care settings.
Dr. Morey's expertise is in the area of exercise physiology and aging. She has specific knowledge in age-related changes in cardiorespiratory functioning, the effects of habitual exercise (longitudinal) on performance, and exercise programming for older adults.

Key Words: Exercise, maximal oxygen uptake, cardiorespiratory fitness, aging, disability,
functional limitations, longitudinal


Denise Snyder

Assoc Dean, Clinical Research

Facilitating clinical research support and collaborations for Duke faculty, staff, students and trainees. Revitalizing the clinical research professional workforce through innovative initiatives to improve support for clinical research that changes clinical care.

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