A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, titled “Effects of an aerobic exercise programme on fatigue for patients with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy” evaluated the efficiency of aerobic exercise on fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
Patients who undergo rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy usually reveal symptoms of fatigue, with 40 to 100% of cancer patients estimated to suffer from this condition.
There is evidence suggesting that aerobic exercise can be beneficial to these patients, reducing fatigue levels in both cancer survivors and patients undergoing treatment.
The research team evaluated a total of 58 Taiwanese women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and who were receiving radiation therapy. Among these, 28 women preformed mild- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for six weeks simultaneously with their radiation course.
The remaining 30 women were assigned to a control group, where they did not receive any particular exercise regimen during their radiotherapy course.
Researchers measured fatigue levels before radiation therapy and every week after the beginning of treatment, using the Taiwanese version of the Brief Fatigue Inventory.
The results demonstrated that in the group receiving aerobic exercise, the baseline fatigue severity was of 3·04, while in the control group it was of 2·95.
Furthermore, for the intervention group and the control group the baseline fatigue interference were of 3·48 and 3·55, respectively.
Importantly, the authors observed that fatigue severity and interference significantly decreased throughout time for women in the intervention group but increased over time for women in the control group.
“Aerobic exercise can improve physical function through rhythmic contraction and relaxation of large muscle groups, strengthening cardiopulmonary function, and regulating oxygen capacity. Other studies have shown that exercise can reduce the activity of neutrophil and interleukin-8, which in turn decrease tissues’ inflammatory response to radiation and reduce fatigue”, the authors write in their study. “Results of the present study suggest that individual prescribed aerobic exercise with mild to moderate intensity can decrease fatigue levels during RT for Taiwanese women with breast cancer. Future studies should examine the effects of aerobic exercise on women with breast cancer with other treatment modalities”, they further conclude.