Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity among older adults with cancer in a central Canadian province: Results from a survey study

Ailsa C. Sirois, Kristen R. Haase, Jennifer Pesut, Shahid Ahmed, Schroder Sattar


Background: Physical activity is important for individuals with cancer. Older adults with cancer (OACA) have been disproportionally vulnerable to both COVID-19 infection and its outcomes. This study investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions affected physical activity in OACA in one Canadian province.

Method: An online cross-sectional survey was conducted. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, with SPSS® Version 27. Answers to free-text questions were grouped, based on thematic categories. 

Results: One hundred and fifteen OACA participated in this study; more than 46% reported lower levels of physical activity since the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants described increases in sedentary behaviour and reduced physical activity overall. They also described barriers to physical activity, and remained open to remotely delivered physical activity interventions. 

Conclusion: The pandemic disrupted physical activity routines among OACA. Future efforts should include an acceleration of research related to remotely delivered interventions given older adults’ growing acceptance of such technologies.  

Keywords: aging, cancer, physical activity, COVID-19, geriatric oncology, older adults, nursing   

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