Psychosocial and physiological effects of triathlon training in breast cancer survivors

Aurora Affiliations

Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Aurora Comprehensive Breast Care Center, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation


Exercise is known to improve quality of life and physical function in breast cancer survivors.

PURPOSE: The overall objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a unique goal-orientated triathlon training program on improving physiological and psychosocial health outcomes on a diverse and overweight female breast cancer survivor patient population.

METHODS: Twenty-nine female breast cancer survivors (age= 52(7) yr, BMI =29 (6)) having undergone systemic breast cancer treatment, participated in a 14 wk individualized triathlon training program. Training comprised two supervised group sessions and three home-based sessions per week. The program culminated with participation in a sprint triathlon (Athleta Iron Girl, 0.5 mi swim, 12 mi bike, 3.1 mi run). Pre- and post-training outcome measures included: quality of life (FACT-B), cancer related fatigue (FACIT-F), isokinetic peak knee extensor and flexor torque at 60, 180, and 300 degrees/sec, peak arm flexor and extensor torque at 60, and 120 degrees/sec), six-minute walk test (6MWT), and body composition (bioelectrical impedance). Focus groups were used post-training to assess common themes related to training participation. Analyses were by paired t-tests and Wilcoxon Signed Ranks (questionnaires).

RESULTS: Data are mean (SD) from 23 subjects who completed pre and post intervention measurements. FACT-B improved (pre = 115 (14), post = 127 (8), p = 0.001) as did FACIT-F (pre = 41 (10), post = 48 (4), p

CONCLUSIONS: Goal oriented triathlon training in breast cancer survivors can improve functional capacity, improve quality of life and lessen fatigue. Feeling like part of a team with a common goal may have facilitated successful participation. Thus, goal-oriented training could lead to better health in breast cancer survivors.

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