NEW HAVEN — Despite the benefits that physical activity can offer, a mere ten percent of cancer survivors are exercising enough to reap those benefits, according to research conducted by the Yale Cancer Center and Yale School of Public Health.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) recommends cancer survivors engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, and two sessions of strength training, every week. The Yale researchers found that among the population of cancer survivors studied in the U.S., only ten percent met these physical activity guidelines.

Yet, all survivors who said they exercised at recommended levels reported better quality of life (less fatigue, improved mental and physical health, and increased satisfaction in social activities and relationships).

The team reviewed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey that included information from more than 19 million cancer survivors. The large sample size of survivors and the inclusion of more than ten types of cancer were unprecedented in this type of study.

“We know that exercise not only improves multiple aspects of quality of life, but other studies have shown it also is associated with lower risk of recurrence and mortality,” said o-author Melinda Irwin, co-director of the cancer prevention and control program at Yale Cancer Center, and associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. “This rate is similar to what we see in the healthy adult population, so we need to make huge efforts to increase physical activity for everyone.”