Adventure-based activities: A new frontier in physical activity for childhood Cancer survivors?

15 Aug 2018 1:46 PM | Brandon Davenport (Administrator)

Li, H.C., Chung, O.K., Ho, K.Y., Chiu, S.Y., & Lopez, V (2013). Effectiveness of an integrated adventure-based training and health education program in promoting regular physical activity among childhood cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 2601-2610.

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Advances in treatment protocols have resulted in improved rates of survival for childhood cancer patients. Despite enhanced prognosis, treatment regimens are associated with a myriad of adverse side effects. Physical activity has been shown to be a safe and effective strategy to ameliorate and potentially reverse the sequelae of cancer and its treatments in children with cancer. Moreover, it is a beneficial strategy to promote improved psychosocial and physical health. Unfortunately, there is growing concern about low rates of physical activity in childhood cancer survivors. Previous research shows that education alone is not enough to increase physical activity levels; therefore, more research is needed to explore alternative strategies. In this study, Li et al. examined if an integrated adventure-based training and health education program would increase perceptions of self-efficacy, physical activity levels, and quality of life (QOL) in 71 cancer survivors between the ages of 9 and 16 years. They found that participants reported increased perceptions of self-efficacy, physical activity levels, and QOL over the course of the intervention. Additionally, they found that participants who completed the program had greater perceptions of self-efficacy, were more active, and were more willing to participate in physical activity than participants who did not complete the program.

This study provides compelling evidence that an alternative type of physical activity program (e.g., adventure-based training such as rock wall climbing, relay games and three-legged races) can effectively promote positive changes in physical activity behaviour, as well as psychosocial constructs. While these findings are promising, more research is needed to determine if the length and format of the program should be modified based on participants’ personal and/or cancer-related characteristics in order to optimize outcomes. Furthermore, greater research efforts exploring dissemination strategies should be conducted to ensure a greater number of childhood cancer survivors are impacted.

Why I like this article: Currently, data supporting effective means to promote physical activity behaviour, and in turn QOL, for older childhood cancer survivors are lacking. This study sheds light on an exciting alternative type of physical activity that may be more readily adopted and maintained by this age group – adventure-based activities. Accordingly, it offers a novel approach to potentially address the physical inactivity epidemic in childhood cancer survivors.

Digest writer: Amanda Wurz, MSc.

Digest editor: Jennifer Brunet, PhD

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