Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 2525–2533 | Cite as

Health-related physical fitness assessment in a community-based cancer rehabilitation setting

  • Amy A. Kirkham
  • Sarah E. Neil-Sztramko
  • Joanne Morgan
  • Sara Hodson
  • Sarah Weller
  • Tasha McRae
  • Kristin L. Campbell
Original Article



Assessment of physical fitness is important in order to set goals, appropriately prescribe exercise, and monitor change over time. This study aimed to determine the utility of a standardized physical fitness assessment for use in cancer-specific, community-based exercise programs.


Tests anticipated to be feasible and suitable for a community setting and a wide range of ages and physical function were chosen to measure body composition, aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, and balance. Cancer Exercise Trainers/Specialists at cancer-specific, community-based exercise programs assessed new clients (n = 60) at enrollment, designed individualized exercise programs, and then performed a re-assessment 3–6 months later (n = 34).


Resting heart rate, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, handgrip strength, chair stands, sit-and-reach, back scratch, single-leg standing, and timed up-and-go tests were considered suitable and feasible tests/measures, as they were performed in most (≥88 %) participants. The ability to capture change was also noted for resting blood pressure (−7/−5 mmHg, p = 0.02), chair stands (+4, p < 0.01), handgrip strength (+2 kg, p < 0.01), and sit-and-reach (+3 cm, p = 0.03). While the submaximal treadmill test captured a meaningful improvement in aerobic fitness (+62 s, p = 0.17), it was not completed in 33 % of participants. Change in mobility, using the timed up-and-go was nominal and was not performed in 27 %.


Submaximal treadmill testing, handgrip dynamometry, chair stands, and sit-and-reach tests were feasible, suitable, and provided meaningful physical fitness information in a cancer-specific, community-based, exercise program setting. However, a shorter treadmill protocol and more sensitive balance and upper body flexibility tests should be investigated.


Rehabilitation Exercise tests Cancer Physical fitness 



Amy Kirkham and Sarah Neil-Sztramko are supported by Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Awards from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

Conflict of interest

Joanne Morgan and Sara Hodson are the respective owners of Back on Track Fitness and Live Well Exercise Clinic, which were the two centers included in this study. They were involved in study design and data collection and reviewed the manuscript but were not involved in data analysis, interpretation, or reporting of results.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy A. Kirkham
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Neil-Sztramko
    • 2
  • Joanne Morgan
    • 3
  • Sara Hodson
    • 4
  • Sarah Weller
    • 3
  • Tasha McRae
    • 4
  • Kristin L. Campbell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.School of Population and Public HealthUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Back on Track FitnessVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Live Well Exercise ClinicWhite RockCanada
  5. 5.Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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