Moderate-to-vigorous physical activities, such as brisk walking or jogging, may help improve memory in breast cancer survivors, a new study suggests.
Physical activity alleviates stress and benefits women psychologically, which in turn aids in their memory, the study claimed.
Memory problems appear to be related to the high stress load cancer survivors experience, which may not be specific to chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
"Our research suggests these self-reported memory problems may be emotionally related. These women are frightened, stressed, fatigued, tapped out emotionally and have low self-confidence, which can be very mentally taxing and can lead to perceived memory problems," said Siobhan Phillips, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The researchers looked at memory and exercise in breast cancer survivors in two study arms, that is, one in self-reported data for 1477 women; the other in accelerometers worn by 362 women.
The findings linking improved memory to higher levels of physical activity were consistent across both groups.
In the study, more physical activity was associated with higher levels of self-confidence, lower distress and less fatigue, which in turn is associated with lower levels of perceived memory impairment.
Breast cancer survivors who had higher levels of moderate and vigorous physical activities, like brisk walking, biking, jogging or attending an exercise class, had fewer subjective memory problems.
Subjective memory is an individual's perception of his/her memory.