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This review summarizes current data on the effects of exercise interventions and physical activity in cancer prevention, treatment and related side effect management, as well as on the rehabilitation of cancer patients.
Patients and methods
The overall quality of patient studies is still poor due to methodological limitations. Major limitations of the interventional exercise studies conducted include their designs, with regard to missing randomization or the absence of control groups, and the use of heterogeneous assessment methods to quantify and objectify physical activity. As a result, there are no specific exercise recommendations in cancer patients as yet that would essentially differ from exercise recommendations for healthy subjects. Nevertheless, due to major findings and empirical data, the field of research into exercise- and physical activity-related effects on disease and therapy-associated aspects is young and rapidly emerging.
Exercise potentially contributes to the prevention and rehabilitation of cancer and represents a powerful tool in the prevention of various side effects under chemotherapy. Current data from interventional studies show preliminary positive effects for diverse movement programs and especially through specific combinations of endurance and resistance training. Additional randomized controlled trials with standardized assessments and controlling for potential confounders are needed to confirm and expand these findings.