Is it safe to exercise while undergoing cancer treatment?

April 5, 2013, Tufts University

Exercise can improve the quality of life for cancer survivors as well as for patients still undergoing treatment, based on an extensive review I was involved in as a research librarian. The massive study was a systematic review, a type of research whose goal is to retrieve all the relevant research that has already been completed on a topic and answer specific clinical questions.

The results from studies around the world showed that exercise programs can be beneficial, although more research needs to be done to determine which kinds of exercise are best. The activities in the studies that were evaluated included walking, bicycling, and yoga. The review looked at their effect on areas that make up quality of life, such as fatigue, anxiety and .

The researchers conducted two reviews. The first study examined 56 trials with a total of 4,826 participants undergoing treatment. The second evaluated information on more than 3,500 people who had completed treatment.  Both studies compared the quality of life of patients who exercised with that of patients who did not exercise; overall both showed exercise to be beneficial.

In the first case, for patients undergoing treatment, the researchers learned that exercise may improve a person's and how they function in society. Exercise also reduced fatigue. The more intense the exercise, we found, the greater the benefits.

The second study included 40 trials with 3,694 people who had finished . The results showed that exercise may reduce worry about cancer and positively affect the way people view their body. It may also help someone cope with and reduce anxiety, fatigue and pain.

In both cases, however, findings need to be viewed with caution, because the reviews looked at many different kinds of that varied by the type of exercise, length of the program and intensity. Also, the studies reviewed used a number of different ways to measure quality of life.

This type of work is something more librarians are becoming involved in, and I hope research faculty will continue to take advantage of our expertise. The cancer and exercise study, for example, took several years and included developing a complicated search strategy and keeping detailed records of searches and results. Systematic reviews are complex but rewarding and are capable of producing useful results that answer specific clinical questions.

Explore further: Exercise may improve quality of life during and after cancer

Related Stories

Exercise may improve quality of life during and after cancer

August 14, 2012
Exercise may improve quality of life for people with cancer, according to Cochrane researchers. In two separate Cochrane systematic reviews, the authors gathered together evidence showing that activities such as walking and ...

Cancer: Exercise reduces tiredness

November 13, 2012
Aerobic exercise can help relieve the fatigue often associated with cancer and cancer treatment, according to Cochrane researchers. Their updated systematic review strengthens findings from an earlier version on cancer-related ...

Exercise can improve the health and wellbeing of cancer patients

January 31, 2012
Exercise can improve the health of cancer patients who have completed their main cancer-related treatment finds a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Exercise can help cancer patients, but few oncologists suggest it

August 28, 2012
Numerous studies have shown the powerful effect that exercise can have on cancer care and recovery. For patients who have gone through breast or colon cancer treatment, regular exercise has been found to reduce recurrence ...

Recommended for you

Boosting cancer therapy with cross-dressed immune cells

January 22, 2018
Researchers at EPFL have created artificial molecules that can help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer tumors. The study is published in Nature Methods.

Workouts may boost life span after breast cancer

January 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Longer survival after breast cancer may be as simple as staying fit, new research shows.

Cancer patients who tell their life story find more peace, less depression

January 22, 2018
Fifteen years ago, University of Wisconsin–Madison researcher Meg Wise began interviewing cancer patients nearing the end of life about how they were living with their diagnosis. She was surprised to find that many asked ...

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.