Home-based exercise to alleviate fatigue and improve functional capacity among breast cancer survivors

J Allied Health. Winter 2007;36(4):e257-75.


This pilot study examined the efficacy of two home-based exercise programs on alleviating fatigue and improving functional capacity in breast cancer survivors. Participants were randomly assigned into one of three groups: aerobic exercise (AE), resistance exercise (RE), or usual care control (CON). After receiving individualized instruction and training, participants assigned to the AE and RE groups were asked to perform the prescribed exercise(s) 3 times per week for 12 weeks at home. Both groups were instructed to keep their perceived exercise intensity in the "fairly light" to "somewhat hard" range using the Borg Perceived Exertion Scale. All participants completed the revised Piper Fatigue Scale (PFS) and the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) at baseline and 12-week post-exercise program. Analysis of pre- and post-training data revealed a significant reduction in fatigue levels on the PFS among participants in the AE group (Z=2.521, one-tailed P=0.006), and a significant improvement in the distance of the 6MWT for the RE group (Z=2.366, one-tailed P=0.009) at the end of 12-week study period. No significant changes in fatigue or functional status were observed in the CON group. Findings provide preliminary support for RE as a viable strategy for improving functional capacity in breast cancer survivors, while AE may be more effective in attenuating cancer-related fatigue. Incorporating RE training for future research may help advance the growing body of knowledge in symptom management for breast cancer survivors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychological Tests
  • Resistance Training / methods
  • Self Care / methods
  • South Carolina
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking