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Effects of Exercise Intensity and Self-Efficacy on State Anxiety With Breast Cancer Survivors

Rachel Blacklock
Ryan Rhodes
Chris Blanchard
Catherine Gaul
ONF 2010, 37(2), 206-212 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.206-212

Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether acute exercise reduces state anxiety and whether this reduction is moderated by the sample (i.e., breast cancer survivors versus those without a cancer diagnosis), exercise intensity (i.e., moderate versus light), and the potential sample times intensity interactions; and to explore whether changes in self-efficacy and state anxiety reciprocally predict each other as suggested by social cognitive theory.

Design: Repeated-measures, experimental pilot.

Setting: University laboratory.

Sample: Breast cancer survivors (n = 25) and age-matched women without a cancer diagnosis (n = 25).

Methods: Cycling for 20 minutes at light and moderate intensities on two separate occasions. State anxiety and self-efficacy measures were completed before, immediately following, and 10 minutes after exercise.

Main Research Variables: State anxiety, self-efficacy, and light and moderate exercise.

Findings: 2 (sample) × 2 (intensity condition) × 3 (time) repeated-measure analyses of variance revealed a main effect for time (p < 0.01, η2 = 0.37, F[2, 86] = 24.687), but between-sample and exercise intensity interaction effects were not significant. Autoregressive path analysis using ordinary least squares multiple regression revealed significant reciprocation for self-efficacy and anxiety pre-exercise (light intensity β = 0.49, p < 0.05; moderate intensity β = -0.37, p < 0.05) and post-exercise (moderate intensity β = -0.31, -0.23, p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Acute exercise at light and moderate intensity decreases state anxiety for breast cancer survivors and those without a diagnosis. Additional research is warranted.

Implications for Nursing: Light- and moderate-intensity exercise may be a valuable alternative anxiolytic tool that also allows for the acquisition of myriad additional known health benefits associated with exercise.

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