(HealthDay News) – Exercise is associated with improvements in physical functions and quality of life in patients who have completed cancer treatment, according to a meta-analysis published online January 31 in BMJ.

Daniel Y.T. Fong, PhD, of the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 34 randomized controlled trials to investigate the effects of exercise on 48 outcomes in adult patients who had completed their main treatment related to cancer, excluding hormonal treatment. Twenty-two of the studies focused on patients with breast cancer.

The researchers found that 22 of the trials evaluated aerobic exercise and four also included resistance or strength training. The duration of physical activity ranged from three to 60 weeks, with a median of 13 weeks. Most control groups were assigned no exercise or were considered sedentary. Physical activity was associated with improvements in insulin-like growth factor-I, fatigue, depression, and quality of life in the studies of patients with breast cancer. When studies on different types of cancers were combined, exercise was associated with significant improvements in body mass index, body weight, peak oxygen consumption, peak power output, distance walked in six minutes, right handgrip strength, and quality of life.

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“Physical activity has positive effects on physiology, body composition, physical functions, psychological outcomes, and quality of life in patients after treatment for breast cancer,” the authors write.

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