, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 116-127
Date: 12 Aug 2005

The effect of a multidimensional exercise intervention on physical capacity, well-being and quality of life in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of a multidimensional exercise intervention focusing on physical capacity; one-repetition maximum (1RM) and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2Max), activity level, general well-being and quality of life in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The intervention comprised resistance and fitness training, massage, relaxation and body-awareness training. Eighty-two cancer patients, with or without evidence of residual disease, were included: 66 patients with 13 different types of solid tumours and 16 patients with 6 types of haematological malignancies. The patients trained in mixed groups for 9 h weekly for 6 weeks. Physical capacity, physical activity level and psychosocial well-being as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30 were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Highly significant increases were achieved in muscular strength (p<0.001), physical fitness (p<0.001) and physical activity levels (p<0.001). The patients reported significant reduction in treatment-related symptoms, i.e., fatigue (p=0.006) and pain (p=0.03). Highly significant improvements were observed in physical functioning (p<0.001) and role functioning (p<0.001). Even patients with advanced disease were able to improve their results after 6 weeks. It is concluded that a multidimensional exercise intervention, including resistance training, may be beneficial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. This study indicates significant clinical meaningful improvements. The exact role of the intervention has to be defined in a randomized controlled design. A clinically controlled trial including 250 patients is currently being carried out.