Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 32–47 | Cite as

Exercise Interventions for Cancer Survivors: A Meta-Analysis of Quality of Life Outcomes

  • Rebecca A. FerrerEmail author
  • Tania B. Huedo-Medina
  • Blair T. Johnson
  • Stacey Ryan
  • Linda S. Pescatello
Original Article



Exercise improves quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors, although characteristics of efficacious exercise interventions for this population have not been identified.


The present meta-analysis examines the efficacy of exercise interventions in improving QOL in cancer survivors, as well as features that may moderate such effects.


Studies were identified and coded, and QOL effect sizes were calculated and analyzed for trends.


Overall, exercise interventions increased QOL, but this tendency depended to some extent on exercise and patient features. Although several features were associated with effect sizes, models revealed that interventions were particularly successful if they targeted more intense aerobic exercise and addressed women. These tendencies emerged over longer periods of time and were more prominent in studies with higher methodological quality.


Appropriately designed exercise interventions enhance QOL for cancer survivors and this pattern is especially evident for women. Limitations are discussed.


Cancer Oncology Exercise Behavioral interventions Quality of life Meta-analysis Exercise interventions Cancer survivors 



This research was supported by University of Connecticut Research Foundation Grant 433527 to Blair T. Johnson and Linda B. Pescatello and facilitated by NIH grants F31MH080626 to Rebecca A. Ferrer and R01-MH58563 to Blair T. Johnson. We thank Michelle R. Warren for her feedback on prior versions of this manuscript.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

12160_2010_9225_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Table A1 Bivariate moderators of QOL effect sizes at first available follow-up assessment (DOCX 16 kb)
12160_2010_9225_MOESM2_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Table A2 Bivariate moderators of QOL effect sizes at first available follow-up as gauged by change from baseline in intervention groups, clustered by methodological quality (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Ferrer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tania B. Huedo-Medina
    • 2
  • Blair T. Johnson
    • 2
  • Stacey Ryan
    • 3
  • Linda S. Pescatello
    • 3
  1. 1.Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population SciencesNational Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Center for Health, Intervention, and PreventionUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  3. 3.Department of Kinesiology and Center for Health, Intervention, and PreventionUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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