Effects of 12 weeks of water aerobics on body composition in those affected by breast cancer



Exercise may prevent changes in body composition and provide an effective means of improving the side effects of treatment without causing lymphedema.


Test the effectiveness of a 12-week water aerobics program on body composition and lymphedema risk in breast cancer survivors.


Body composition analysis was completed at weeks 0, 6, and 12 weeks.


Ten females completed all testing. Baseline subject characteristics were as follows: age (59.40 ± 8.22 years), weight (169.91 ± 41.70 lbs), body fat percent (%BF) (40.15 ± 9.84%), body fat mass (BFM) (71.27 ± 31.50 lbs), lean body mass (LBM) (98.66 ± 13.24 lbs), skeletal muscle mass (SMM) (53.17 ± 8.09 lbs), intracellular water (ICW) (44.24 ± 6.18 lbs), and extracellular water (ECW) (28.91 ± 3.62 lbs). One-way ANOVA showed no statistically significant differences over time as determined for weight (F(2.27) = 0.002, P = 0.96), %BF (F(2.27) = 0.004, P = 0.97), BFM (F(2.27) = 0.001, P = 0.97), LBM (F(2.27) = 0.013, P = 0.95), SMM (F(2.27) = 0.027, P = 0.91), ICW (F(2.27) = 0.021, P = 0.93), and ECW (F(2.27) = 0.01, P = 0.94) across the 12 weeks.


A water aerobics program for 12 weeks was not enough to observe changes in body composition nor did it increase the risk for lymphedema and may be a safe exercise method for breast cancer survivors.

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This manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account of the study being reported; no important aspects of the study have been omitted; and any discrepancies from the study as planned have been explained.


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This study received no grant funding but was part of the 15-week program funded by the Rays of Hope, Baystate Health System, Springfield, MA.

Author information




Amanda Salacinski contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by Amanda Salacinski, Erin Doyle, Rileigh Damon, Roderico Acevedo, and Craig Broeder. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Amanda Salacinski and Erin Doyle, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to A. J. Salacinski.

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This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Westfield State University.

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Salacinski, A.J., Doyle, E.J., Damon, R. et al. Effects of 12 weeks of water aerobics on body composition in those affected by breast cancer. Support Care Cancer 29, 1205–1212 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05596-6

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  • Lymphedema
  • Exercise
  • Lean body mass
  • Extracellular water