Exercise and quality of life during and after treatment for breast cancer: results of two randomized controlled trials

Psychooncology. 2009 Apr;18(4):343-52. doi: 10.1002/pon.1525.


Objective: To determine the effect of exercise on quality of life in (a) a randomized controlled trial of exercise among recently diagnosed breast cancer survivors undergoing adjuvant therapy and (b) a similar trial among post-treatment survivors.

Methods: Fifty newly diagnosed breast cancer survivors were recruited through a hospital-based tumor registry and randomized to a 6-month, home-based exercise program (n=25) or a usual care group (n=25). In a separate trial, 75 post-treatment survivors were randomized to a 6-month, supervised exercise intervention (n=37) or to usual care (n=38). Participants in both studies completed measures of happiness, depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, and quality of life at baseline and 6 months.

Results: Forty-five participants completed the trial for newly diagnosed survivors and 67 completed the trial for post-treatment survivors. Good adherence was observed in both studies. Baseline quality of life was similar for both studies on most measures. Exercise was not associated with quality of life benefits in the full sample of either study; however exercise was associated with improved social functioning among post-treatment survivors who reported low social functioning at baseline (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Exercise did not affect quality of life in either recently diagnosed or post-treatment breast cancer survivors; however this may be due in part to relatively high baseline functioning among participants in both studies. Strategies for future research include limiting enrollment to survivors who report reduced quality of life on screening questionnaires and targeting survivor subgroups known to be at particular risk for quality of life impairment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires