Does exercise have a positive impact on fatigue, physical capacity, general wellbeing, and quality of life in patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy or treatment?

From: BMJ

Journal rating:
rating: 99%
Study Quality:
rating: 85%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 90%
rating: 25%


  • 269 patients with cancer representing 21 diagnoses (excluding brain and bone metastases).


  • On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the patients participated in high intensity physical training for 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes relaxation training. On Tuesdays the program included 90 minutes of body awareness followed by 30 minutes of relaxation training. Patients also received 30 minutes of massage on Mondays and Fridays. The program lasted for 6 weeks.
  • Measurements were via questionnaires, strength tests and aerobic fitness tests.


  • The exercise program reduced fatigue and improved vitality, aerobic capacity, muscular strength, physical and functional activity, and emotional wellbeing, but not quality of life.
  • Fitness levels (VO2max) increased by 10.7%. Muscular strength increased by 29.6%.
  • An exercise training program will improve both muscle strength and overall fitness, and reduce fatigue in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.


  • Yes (with confidence) – not quality of life.


Editors Notes

  • 65% of the 269 patients reported fatigue greater than that of the general population. 29% reported severe fatigue.
  • Surveys have shown that fatigue is among the most frequent and burdensome side effect of chemotherapy and results in impaired or diminished physical ability.
  • Severe fatigue results from extreme muscular de-conditioning caused by both the disease and treatment but can also be triggered by a sedentary lifestyle.