Sustainable impact of an individualized exercise program on physical activity level and fatigue syndrome on breast cancer patients in two German rehabilitation centers
Although physical activity has been demonstrated to increase cancer survival in epidemiological studies, breast cancer patients tend toward inactivity after treatment.
Breast cancer patients were quasi-randomly allocated to two different groups, intervention (IG) and control (CG) groups. The intervention group (n = 111) received an individual 3-week exercise program with two additional 1-week inpatient stays after 4 and 8 months. At the end of the rehabilitation, a home-based exercise program was designed. The control group (n = 83) received a 3-week rehabilitation program and did not obtain any follow-up care. Patients from both groups were measured using questionnaires on physical activity, fatigue, and quality of life (QoL) at five time points, 4 months (t1), 8 months (t2), 12 months (t3), 18 months (t4), and 24 months (t5) after the beginning of the rehabilitation.
After 2 years, the level of physical activity (total metabolic rate) increased significantly from 2733.16 ± 2547.95 (t0) to 4169.71 ± 3492.27 (t5) metabolic equivalent (MET)-min/week in the intervention group, but just slightly changed from 2858.38 ± 2393.79 (t0) to 2875.74 ± 2590.15 (t5) MET-min/week in the control group (means ± standard deviation). Furthermore, the internal group comparison showed significant differences after 2 years as well. These results came along with a significantly reduced fatigue syndrome and an increased health-related quality of life.
The data indicate that an individual, according to their preferences, and physical-resource-adapted exercise program has a more sustainable impact on the physical activity level in breast cancer patients than the usual care. It is suggested that the rehabilitation program should be personalized for all breast cancer patients.
KeywordsExercise Cancer Rehabilitation Sustain Physical activity
We would like to thank the “Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden Württemberg” for the financial support to conduct this study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The study was in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the ethics committee of the German Sports University of Cologne. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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