exercise improves fatigue and quality of life in women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer

One of the side effects of breast cancer chemotherapy is cancer-related fatigue (CRF). CRF can be debilitating, and it can drag on for years. Can exercise help?

Research has shown that high-intensity exercise combined with resistance training can help CRF, strength and symptoms. The question of the current study is whether exercise has sustainable, long term benefits.

The 240 women in the study all had breast cancer and all were receiving chemotherapy. One group received usual care, while the other two groups received either resistance training combined with high-intensity interval training or moderate-intensity aerobic training combined with high-intensity interval training. The women in the exercise groups started three days after the second chemo session and continued until three weeks after the last chemo session.

Compared to the group receiving just the usual care, both exercise groups had significantly less cancer-related fatigue. They both also had significantly lower total symptoms. Strength improved significantly in both exercise groups. The moderate-intensity aerobic group also had significantly improved quality of life and emotional functioning. Significantly more of them were able to return to work than the usual care group.

This study shows that a full year after beginning chemotherapy, there were still significant benefits to exercising for women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.


J Cancer Surviv 2019;doi.org/10.1007/s11764-019-00747-z


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