Smart bracelet promotes exercise among breast cancer survivors

Tristan Manalac
07 Sep 2021

A smart wearable device helps breast cancer survivors track their physical activity and promote a healthier lifestyle, according to a recent study. In this population, short-term exercise is beneficial in terms of improving body composition and, to a lesser degree, wellbeing.

“Wearing a smart bracelet allowed patients to monitor exercise more conveniently and adjust exercise time and exercise mode according to their own condition in real time, so that the lifestyle of patients during cancer recovery became healthier and more active,” the researchers said.

A total of 91 survivors participated, 23.1 percent of whom were obese or overweight, with body mass index (BMI) >23.9 kg/m2. Data from the smart bracelet showed that participants had an average of 8,837.77±2,362.33 steps over a mean of 95.72±20.09 minutes per day. This corresponded to a daily calorie consumption of 147.07±46.87 kcal. [Integr Cancer Ther 2021;20:15347354211040780]

Participants were also given the option of running as an exercise, for which they recorded a daily distance and time of 947.11±812.41 m and 7.04±6.51 min, respectively, yielding an average of 34.02±27.47 kcal burned per day.

Engaging in such exercise for 3 months led to significant improvements in body composition. Weight, for instance, dropped from 57.34±7.77 to 56.76±7.71 kg (p<0.001), as did body mass index (22.80±2.82 to 22.57±2.80 kg/m2), body fat mass (19.13±5.17 to 18.37±5.12 kg), and fat mass index (7.61±2.07 to 7.32±2.06 kg/m2; p<0.001 for all).

Correlation analysis revealed that walking time was significantly and inversely correlated with body fat mass (r, –0.231; p=0.028), fat mass index (r, –0.232; p=0.027), and percent body fat (r, –0.234; p=0.026), suggesting that longer walking times could lead to reductions in these body composition parameters.

Physical activity also led to significant improvements in the additional wellbeing domain of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) inventory (22.54±4.48 to 23.72±3.71; p<0.001). FACT-B functional, physical, social/family, and emotional wellbeing were all unaffected.

“This suggested that short-term low-intensity walking may not improve the QoL of breast cancer patients. Therefore, based on the available evidence, improving the QoL of patients may require moderate-intensity aerobic or resistance exercise,” the researchers said.

The present findings also highlighted the value of wearable devices in helping monitor physical activity among survivors. Traditionally, exercise in this population was measured using pedometers, which can only record a single activity and is inconvenient to wear for 24-hour cycles. The smart bracelet in the current study sought to overcome these limitations, but adherence nevertheless remained a problem, with some participants failing to wear their devices daily.

“Further studies should involve more indicators, especially biomarkers such as leptins, tumour necrosis factor-α, and C-reactive protein, and should assess lifestyle at the beginning of the programme as well as account for the energy intake during the programme,” the researchers said.

“Additionally, research is needed on the accuracy, effectiveness, and practicality of smart bracelets for monitoring exercise and improving the compliance of breast cancer recovery patients wearing bracelets,” they added.

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