Systematic review found that exercise improves quality of life in people with cancer

In this review, the authors included 16 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of exercise during or after chemotherapy and radiotherapy or after surgery compared with placebo, other treatment or standard care. Only studies that used exercise to improve or maintain physical fitness and measured health-related quality of life were included. The review included patients with mixed, breast, lymphoma, colorectal, prostate and lung cancer. Sample sizes ranged from 21 to 269 patients in the included studies. Exercise was effective for improving quality of life among cancer patients when compared to placebo, other treatment or standard care (standardised mean difference 5.6, 95% CI 3.2 to 7.9, 1,735 patients, 16 trials). Benefits of exercise were also evident for secondary outcomes (peak oxygen consumption, self-esteem, physical functioning, fatigue, length of hospital stay, number of general practitioner visits, social functioning). None of the trials included reported adverse events. There is no ideal dosage of exercise therapy for cancer patients; however exercising more frequently and in shorter workouts were associated with better outcomes in the included studies. More studies with long-term follow-ups are needed to investigate the effects of exercise on cancer recurrence and survival rates. Exercise therapy should be recommended during cancer treatment.

Gerritsen JKW, Vincent AJPE. Exercise improves quality of life in patients with cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med 2016;50:796-803.

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