Perceptions of the Group-Exercise Climate Among Women Breast Cancer Survivors

Theresa Brown, Oklahoma State University, USA
Mary Fry, University of Kansas, USA

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 49

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Exercise may prove to be a valuable tool in improving overall survivorship for women diagnosed with breast cancer (BC) (McNeely, et al., 2006). Physical activity participation declines with cancer treatment (Irwin & Ainsworth, 2004; Galvao & Newton, 2005), and little research has considered cancer survivors’ exercise experiences. The purpose of this study was to examine women BC survivors’ perceptions of the motivational climate in their group exercise class, using both Achievement Motivation Theory (Nicholls, 1978) and a caring climate framework (Newton et al., 2007). Women BC survivors currently enrolled in a group-exercise format (N = 175; 23-77 age range; Mage = 51.51) were invited to complete an on-line survey regarding their class experiences. The participants perceived the environment as highly caring and that staff engaged in caring and task-involving behaviors. They also reported moderately high commitment to exercise, as well as moderately high life satisfaction and body image. Canonical correlation analysis revealed that members who perceived a high caring climate and that both staff and members engaged in caring and task-involving behaviors were more likely to report higher life satisfaction and body image, as well as greater commitment to exercise (Wilks’ L=.813, F(9)=3.57, p<.0001). The correlation accounted for 37% of the variance. Results suggest that women breast cancer survivors who exercise in settings they perceive as caring, and where staff engage in caring and task-involving behaviors are more likely to report positive experiences such as greater life satisfaction. The behaviors in which staff and other members engage may be particularly important in influencing the women’s experiences, and the study highlights the importance of creating a positive setting in group-based fitness classes for BC survivors.

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