Purpose: 1) To determine the effect of a home-based walking exercise program on the sleep quality and quality of life of cancer patients, as well as 2) to determine if enhanced sleep quality was associated with improvement in quality of life over time.
Methods: This is a prospective, longitudinal, two-armed, randomized clinical trial. Participants were recruited from oncology outpatient clinics in two university-based medical centers and were allocated to either usual care (n = 35) or a home-based walking exercise intervention for 8 weeks (n = 36). Measurements included the Taiwanese version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, the Taiwanese Version Ratings of the Perceived Exertion Scale, and a walking exercise log. This study was analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. Effects of the walking exercise program on sleep quality and quality of life were analyzed by the generalized estimating equation method.
Results: Patients in the exercise group reported significant improvements in sleep quality (beta = -3.54, p < 0.01) and the mental health dimension of quality of life (beta = 10.48, p < 0.01). Among patients who exercised, enhanced sleep quality also corresponded with reduced bodily pain (beta = 0.98, p = 0.04) and improvements over time in the mental health dimension of quality of life (beta = -3.87, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: A home-based walking exercise program can be easily incorporated into care for cancer patients who are suffering from sleep disturbances.