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Aerobic exercise during chemotherapy infusion for cancer treatment: a novel randomised crossover safety and feasibility trial



Exercise is a powerful adjunct therapy for patients diagnosed with cancer which can alleviate treatment side-effects and improve a range of outcomes including fatigue and health-related quality of life. Recently, preclinical evidence has suggested that if exercise is performed during chemotherapy infusion, there is enhanced perfusion that may improve drug delivery and attenuate the hypoxic microenvironment. This study aimed to determine the safety and feasibility of delivering an aerobic exercise intervention to cancer patients during chemotherapy infusion.


A randomised crossover trial was conducted for adults (18–60) undergoing chemotherapy treatment with non-vesicant agents for cancer. In randomised order, during two consecutive chemotherapy infusions, participants either received usual care or performed 20 min of supervised low-intensity cycling.


Sixty-five percent of patients approached agreed to participate, and exercise was safely delivered with neither adverse events nor interference to treatment reported for all participants with a mixed cancer diagnosis (N = 10, 90% female, 51.2 ± 7.4 years). There were no significant differences between exercise and usual care in participant-reported difficulty or comfort levels, but exercise significantly reduced boredom (p = 0.01). No significant differences were detected in the symptoms experienced following either intervention.


Exercise during chemotherapy infusion appears to be safe and feasible. Further research is required with a larger sample size to evaluate the impact on tumour perfusion, symptom experience, and opportunity for physical activity increase.

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Correspondence to Kate M. Edwards.

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Thomas, V.J., Seet-Lee, C., Marthick, M. et al. Aerobic exercise during chemotherapy infusion for cancer treatment: a novel randomised crossover safety and feasibility trial. Support Care Cancer 28, 625–632 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-019-04871-5

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  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Chemotherapy
  • Treatment-related side effects
  • Feasibility