Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Melinda Irwin


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a yearlong exercise intervention compared to usual care on cardiorespiratory fitness in sedentary breast cancer survivors who were taking aromatase inhibitors and experiencing arthralgia.

Methods: Participants were randomized to either an exercise intervention group that met twice weekly with a personal trainer or usual care. Participants completed self-administered questionnaires, including reporting demographic and personal characteristics, and a graded treadmill test using a modified Branching protocol at baseline and at the end of the 12-month study. T-tests and chi-squared analyses were used to assess change in cardiorespiratory fitness, measured by VO2max, over the 12 month study period. Potential modifiers of change in cardiorespiratory fitness were examined, these included, disease and treatment characteristics, BMI, and age,

Results: The average age of the sample was 63.3 years (SD± 6.2) and women had been taking an AI for an average of 2 years. A majority of women were diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer (54%) and received treatment after surgery of radiation and/or chemotherapy (92%). The average percent change in VO2max was 5.28 ml/kg/min among exercisers compared to negligible change (0.14 ml/kg/min) among the usual care group (p=0.094). No effect modification was observed among the a priori variables; however, a stratified analysis revealed similar trends among age strata, baseline BMI and fitness levels, as well as stage and treatment groups.

Conclusion: In this study, an exercise intervention including a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise was effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness among previously sedentary breast cancer survivors taking aromatase inhibitors. These results are encouraging for post-menopausal women who are recommended to take AIs to reduce their risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access