A recent review from Australia highlighted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) suggests that not only can a supervised physical activity program improve muscle mass, muscle function, and quality of life among patients with cancer, it may also reduce cancer-related fatigue experienced during disease treatments.

The review appears in the December 12 issue of the Journal of Physiotherapy, according to an APTA news release. In the review, researchers reportedly shared the results of a meta-analysis encompassing 11 randomized controlled trials involving 1,530 individuals, 78% of whom were women, and all of whom were receiving treatment for cancer.

The release notes that the trials featured supervised physical activity interventions with a mean duration of 17 weeks at an average rate of three 45-minute sessions per week. Activities included aerobic exercise in all trials, resistance training in six trials, and flexibility exercises in four trials.

After analyzing results from several assessments, the release says, including the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) – fatigue scale, the researchers report that supervised physical activity overall resulted in a moderate reduction in fatigue in individuals undergoing treatment.

The release adds that the most effective approach appeared to be a blend of aerobic and resistance training. In terms of aerobic exercise alone when compared with resistance training alone, only resistance exercise was found to reduce fatigue.

In the review, the release states the authors call for more research in order to pinpoint the best exercise program for this patient population. Additionally, the authors emphasize that supervision by a physical therapist is key to ensuring appropriate pre-screening and prescription decisions.

Source: APTA