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Exercise Reduces Fatigue for Survivors

Older Woman HikingBoth during and after treatment, walking and other exercise may help survivors reduce the fatigue that is one of the most reported side effects of treatment, suggests a major systematic review of the evidence. The review was published in The Cochrane Library.

Cancer-related fatigue affects survivors’ quality of life and daily activities even years after treatment is completed. A 2008 Cochrane review found that moderate exercise could combat fatigue. This updated review includes double the number of studies – 56 in total; half of the studies focused on breast cancer survivors.

Review authors included only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effect of exercise on cancer-related fatigue in adults. The RCTs, considered one of the strongest forms of evidence, investigated how an exercise intervention affected fatigue compared to the non-exercisers. The majority included an aerobic exercise regimen, such as walking or biking.

When compared to those who did not exercise, aerobic exercise both during and post-cancer therapy reduced fatigue more effectively in survivors who did exercise. The beneficial effects of exercise were seen specifically for survivors of breast and prostate cancers. More research is needed to determine the exercise type, intensity and timing that best helps reduce cancer-related fatigue, note the authors.

Source: Source: Cramp F, Byron-Daniel J. “Exercise for the management of cancer-related fatigue in adults.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Nov 14;11.

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