Characterizing the Exercise Behaviour, Preferences, Barriers, and Facilitators of Cancer Survivors in a Rural Canadian Community: A Cross-Sectional Survey Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Barriers, facilitators, and motivators to exercise for cancer survivors living in urban settings are well described in the literature. However, there is a lack of comparable information for cancer survivors living in rural communities. We describe the exercise behaviours, barriers, facilitators, and motivators to exercise participation of cancer survivors living in a rural Canadian community. Adult cancer survivors with a primary address in a rural region of Ontario, Canada, who had visited a community hospital in the previous five years were mailed a cross-sectional survey assessing current exercise volume (minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic and resistance exercise), as well as exercise preferences, barriers, and facilitators. Seventy-two survivors (mean age 65 years) completed the survey (16% response rate). A majority of respondents were diagnosed with breast cancer (49%) in the last 5 years (61%). Aerobic- and resistance-training guidelines for cancer survivors were met by 38% and 10% of respondents, respectively. Physical side effects were the most common barrier to exercise during treatment (65%) and post-treatment (35%). Being unaware of available exercise programs, time for exercise, distance to exercise services, and cost were commonly reported barriers during and post-treatment (reported by 10–22%). Respondents reported needing information from a qualified exercise professional (46%), access to a gym (33%) and exercise equipment (26%), and social support (25%) to facilitate exercise participation. Consistent with urban-based cancer survivors, most rural survivors surveyed in this study were not meeting the physical-activity guidelines and reported numerous exercise barriers. These findings can serve as a resource for this and similar rural communities when developing community-based exercise-support services for cancer survivors.


  • Smith, Jenna
  • Allen, Lisa
  • Dart, Jennifer
  • Lavigne, Deanna
  • Rooprai, Simran
  • Dempster, Helen
  • Trenholm, Richard
  • Santa Mina, Daniel
  • Sabiston, Catherine M
  • MacMillan, Lindsay
  • Adams, Scott C

publication date

  • August 19, 2021