Exercise improves fatigue and mobility in cancer survivors
With advances in management of cancer, many people survive for prolonged periods after their initial diagnosis, whether by curative or suppressive management. While treatment may improve survival, the side effects on physical function often reduce quality of life. Exercise has many benefits for people with cancer including improvements in cardiovascular function, strength and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of cancer recurrence and death in some types of cancer.
Despite these benefits, the optimal type and intensity of exercise for people with cancer is unclear. Given a dearth of head-to-head trials of different exercise modes and intensities in people with cancer, a group of researchers from Melbourne have used a sophisticated statistical technique called meta-regression to determine what the available evidence says about this issue. The meta-regression was able to draw on data from almost 4,000 participants in randomised trials. As previously established, exercise reduced fatigue and increased walking endurance. Interestingly, a significant negative association was noted between aerobic exercise intensity and fatigue reduction, with a peak effect for moderate-intensity exercise. This means that moderate-intensity exercise is a more effective way of reducing overall levels of cancer-related fatigue than high-intensity exercise.
Although not much more could be concluded about the ideal mode of exercise (strengthening or aerobic), adverse events were rare and participants in the studies were able to adhere to the prescribed exercise well. Therefore, moderate-intensity exercise appears to be the most appropriate intensity of aerobic exercise to achieve benefits in fatigue and walking endurance.
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> From: Dennett et al., J Physiother 62 (2016) 68-82. All rights reserved to Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the Pubmed summary.