Study shows exercising during chemotherapy reduces side effects

Findings from a recent Dutch study showed that women diagnosed with breast cancer who followed an exercise regime of either moderate or low intensity while undergoing chemotherapy experienced less fatigue, nausea and pain, as well as better physical fitness compared to those who did not exercise during treatment.

The trial involved 230 female participants who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and were scheduled to receive chemotherapy after surgery. Each woman was randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups: moderate to high-intensity, low intensity or a third group where the women were not encouraged to be active. The results after three weeks from the end of the chemotherapy period demonstrated the positive effects of exercise which enabled patients to better tolerate their cancer treatment.

“In the past, patients who received chemotherapy were advised to take it slow,” said Neil Aaronson of the Netherlands Cancer Institute who was the lead author of the study. “But actually, it is better for these patients to be as active as possible. Our study shows that even low intensity exercise has a positive effect on the side effects of chemotherapy. That is good news for those who really don’t feel like going to the gym. Small amounts of exercise are beneficial compared to being non-active”