Promoting Physical Activity in Rural Settings: Effectiveness and Potential Strategies.

Academic Article


  • PURPOSE: Implementing efficacious physical activity interventions in real-world rural settings is needed because rural cancer survivors are more physically inactive and experience poorer health. To address this gap, this study evaluated effectiveness of an evidenced-based physical activity program (Better Exercise Adherence after Treatment for Cancer [BEAT Cancer]) for rural women cancer survivors when implemented by community-based, non-research staff. METHODS: 16 rural women cancer survivors received BEAT Cancer implemented by a rural, community organization and non-research staff; physical activity, patient-reported outcomes, and social cognitive constructs were measured at baseline and post-program. Cancer survivors and interventionists completed program evaluations post-program. RESULTS: Cancer survivor mean age was 58±12 years; 62% were White. Mean months since diagnosis was 54±72; 69% had breast cancer. Significant improvements from pre- to post-program occurred for self-report weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (mean change [M] = 146±186, p = 0.009), anxiety (M = -1.3±1.8, p = 0.016), depression (M = -2.1±2.0, p = 0.001), self-efficacy (M = 20.9±30.5, p = 0.019), barriers interference (M = -15.0±14.1, p = 0.001), and social support (M = 5.0±7.4, p = 0.02). Cancer survivors ranked the program highly, identified strategies that were helpful (e.g., group activities, personalized exercise plan, etc.), and suggested additional implementation strategies (e.g., guide for home-based phase, etc.). Interventionists identified strategies (e.g., logistics, staff training and certification, cost, etc.) for enhancing organizational readiness for program delivery. CONCLUSION: Evidence-based physical activity programs can be effective when implemented by non-research staff in rural settings. Further research testing strategies that improve implementation is needed. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Effectiveness and identified strategies supporting delivery when implemented by a rural organization can improve physical activity promotion for rural, at-risk populations.
  • Keywords

  • exercise, oncology, program evaluation, supportive care
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Smith WJ; Martin MY; Pisu M; Oster RA; Qu H; Shewchuk RM; Sheffield ME; Minter A; Baumann AA; Rogers LQ
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 4