Early-phase adaptations to intrahospital training in strength and functional mobility of children with leukemia

J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Feb;21(1):173-7. doi: 10.1519/00124278-200702000-00031.


Improvements in chemotherapy and radiotherapy have contributed to the high survival rate (approximately 70%) of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). However, during treatment, lack of physical activity and treatment cause various short- to long-term side effects, such as muscle atrophy and physical deconditioning. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an intrahospital, short-duration (8 weeks) exercise training program on muscle strength and endurance and functional mobility of children with ALL. Seven children (4 boys and 3 girls; 4-7 years of age) who were in the maintenance phase of treatment for ALL were selected as subjects. Three training sessions of 90- to 120-minute duration were performed each week. Each session included 11 different strength exercises engaging the major muscle groups and aerobic training. Gains in strength and endurance were assessed with a 6 repetition maximum test for upper (seated bench press and seated lateral row) and lower extremities (leg press). Gains in functional mobility were assessed with the time up and go test (TUG) and the timed up and down stairs test (TUDS). Performance was significantly improved after the training program in all strength tests (p < 0.01 for seated bench press and p < 0.05 for both seated lateral row and seated leg press) and in the TUG test (p < 0.05). In summary, a period of time as short as 8 weeks is enough to produce clinically relevant early-phase adaptations in children receiving treatment against ALL (i.e., improved functional mobility and muscle strength). Although more research is needed in the area of exercise training and pediatric cancer, exercise sciences can play a beneficial role in assisting both oncologists in treating cancer and improving children's quality of life during and after treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Spain
  • Treatment Outcome