Prior studies have found that patients with cancer expect to return to their normal daily activities following their primary cancer treatment regimen. However, these patients often find themselves experiencing lower physical activity, added fatigue and an overall decrease in quality of life. However, several health factors including quality of life can be enhanced through engaging in physical activity, according to studies.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong analyzed the results of 34 human trials that focused on how exercise impacts adult patients with cancer. Each trial had an average of 93 patients who had prostate, breast, lung, colorectal, gynecologic, or gastric cancer. During the trials, the patients engaged in resistance, strength, and aerobic training for a median duration of 13 weeks.
Trial participants with breast cancer saw health improvements, such as improved BMI and body weight, blood sugar control, lower limb strength, less fatigue and depression, and improved quality of life following engagement in a period of physical activity. For patients with other types of cancer, improvements were seen in oxygen consumption, depression, BMI, body weight, handgrip strength, and quality of life.
Additionally, variations in physical activity type and intensity impacted the physical health of cancer patients and played a key role in the effects of the exercise. Individuals suffering from breast cancer saw resistance and aerobic exercise to have more positive effects on emotional and physical fitness, as well as concerns regarding breast cancer and overall well-being, compared to aerobic activity alone.
Furthermore, the researchers observed that the effects of exercise was more profound on younger patients. However, this claim could not be fully verified since they were able to engage in physical activity for longer durations. The researchers believe additional trials are needed, particularly on the intensity of activity required and on patients with cancer types other than breast cancer.