Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Can Benefit from Exercise Programs

Supervised exercise programs for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can reduce fatigue and boost muscle strength, aerobic capacity and emotional well-being, a new study suggests.

Fatigue is one of the most frequent and troublesome side effects of chemotherapy, the study authors noted.

The new study included 269 cancer patients, aged 20–65, at two hospitals in Copenhagen, Denmark. The patients had been diagnosed with 21 types of cancer.

Some patients took part in an exercise program that included high- and low-intensity cardiovascular and resistance training, relaxation and body awareness, and massage. They received nine hours of weekly training over six weeks in addition to standard care.

The patients in the exercise group experienced significantly less fatigue than those who didn't undergo exercise training. Even patients with advanced cancer benefited from the exercise program, the researchers found.

Exercise didn't improve overall quality of life. Even so, "there is a considerable rationale for promoting multimodal exercise interventions to improve physical capacity, vitality, physical and mental well-being and relieving fatigue during chemotherapy, thereby supporting cancer patients' daily living activities," wrote Lis Adamsen, of Copenhagen University Hospitals, and colleagues.

The study was published Oct. 14 in the online edition of the BMJ.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about exercise and cancer patients.

HealthDay News, October 14, 2009

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