Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1797–1806 | Cite as

Exercise training in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer undergoing palliative chemotherapy: a pilot study

  • Wiebke JensenEmail author
  • Freerk T. Baumann
  • Alexander Stein
  • Wilhelm Bloch
  • Carsten Bokemeyer
  • Maike de Wit
  • Karin Oechsle
Original Article



This pilot study aimed to investigate the feasibility of two different training programs in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer undergoing palliative chemotherapy. Potential effects of training programs on the patients’ quality of life, physical performance, physical activity in daily living, and biological parameters were exploratorily evaluated.


Patients were randomly assigned to a resistance (RET) and aerobic exercise training group (AET). Both underwent supervised training sessions twice a week for 12 weeks. RET was performed at 60–80 % of the one-repetition maximum and consisted of 2–3 sets of 15–25 repetitions. The AET group performed endurance training at 60–80 % of their predetermined pulse rate (for 10 to 30 min).


A total of 26 gastrointestinal cancer patients could be randomized. Twenty-one patients completed the 12 weeks of intervention. The median adherence rate to exercise training of all 26 patients was 65 %, while in patients who were able to complete 12 weeks, adherence was 75 %. The fatigue score of all patients decreased from 66 to 43 post-intervention. Sleeping duration increased in both groups and muscular strength increased in the RET group. A higher number of steps in daily living was associated with higher levels of physical and social functioning as well as lower scores for pain and fatigue.


RET and AET are feasible in gastrointestinal cancer patients undergoing palliative chemotherapy. Both training programs seem to improve cancer-related symptoms as well as the patient’s physical activities of daily living.


Gastrointestinal cancer palliative chemotherapy quality of life resistance exercise training aerobic exercise training physical performance 



We would like to thank the patients who devoted their precious time to participate in the study. We thank the foundation “Stiftung Leben mit Krebs®” for their support.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wiebke Jensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Freerk T. Baumann
    • 2
  • Alexander Stein
    • 1
  • Wilhelm Bloch
    • 2
  • Carsten Bokemeyer
    • 1
  • Maike de Wit
    • 3
  • Karin Oechsle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oncology/Hematology/Bone marrow Transplantation/PneumologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Molecular and Cellular Sport MedicineInstitute of Cardiovascular Research and Sport Medicine German Sport University CologneCologneGermany
  3. 3.Department of Internal Medicine, Hematology and OncologyVivantes Klinikum NeukoellnBerlinGermany

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