Brain tumor, breast cancer, colon cancer, congenital heart disease, heart arrhythmia. See more conditions.
The research of Diane K. Ehlers, Ph.D., focuses on the effects of physical activity and exercise training on quality-of-life-related health outcomes in individuals living with cancer and older adults without a history of cancer. She uses biobehavioral models and health behavior theory frameworks to test physical activity's health benefits in these populations. Dr. Ehlers' current work specifically evaluates the effects of aerobic exercise training on neurocognitive function in women with a history of breast cancer.
Exercise and neurocognitive function. Much of Dr. Ehlers' research has focused on the effects of regular physical activity and aerobic exercise on cognitive performance, brain structure and function, and subjective memory. Evidence from her work in older adults without a history of cancer and women with breast cancer has indicated that regular activity at a moderate to vigorous intensity can ameliorate age- and cancer-related cognitive declines. This research also has suggested that cardiorespiratory fitness, cancer-related fatigue, brain functional connectivity and sleep disturbance may have a relationship with physical activity's effects on cognitive function.
Her current work in this area includes a phase 2 trial to test the effects of a community-delivered aerobic exercise program on cognitive performance, brain structure and function, and cardiorespiratory fitness in women who have recently completed primary treatment for breast cancer. Findings from this study will also provide information on the implementation success of the community-delivered program using an implementation science perspective.
Other physical activity exposures and outcomes. Also included in Dr. Ehlers' research is the investigation of the health benefits and uptake of novel physical activity prescriptions, such as reducing prolonged sitting and performing high-intensity interval training. Large-scale adoption of regular physical activity consistent with federal guidelines remains a challenge. The goal of this research is to understand the health benefits of and adherence to less studied physical activity prescriptions that may be more accessible to or preferred by certain patient populations.
Across all these focus areas, Dr. Ehlers and her team also examine physical activity's effects on other quality-of-life-related outcomes. These include psychosocial function (for example, self-efficacy, self-esteem, fatigue, depression), physical function (balance, mobility, strength) and body composition. These outcomes, often linked with cognitive function, are important contributors to cancer survivors' and older adults' perceptions of quality of life.
Dr. Ehlers' work on physical activity aims to provide necessary evidence to inform clinical guidance for symptom management in cancer survivorship and aging. Likewise, this work may help identify patients at higher risk of functional decline and inform prevention and treatment efforts. A major goal of Dr. Ehlers' research is to contribute evidence to the larger body of work aiming to establish physical activity as part of the standard of cancer care.
Learn about clinical trials that address specific scientific questions about human health and disease.
See my studies.
Explore all research studies at Mayo Clinic.
See the peer-reviewed findings I have published as a result of my research.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.