Exercise interventions for cancer survivors: a meta-analysis of quality of life outcomes

Ann Behav Med. 2011 Feb;41(1):32-47. doi: 10.1007/s12160-010-9225-1.


Background: Exercise improves quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors, although characteristics of efficacious exercise interventions for this population have not been identified.

Purpose: The present meta-analysis examines the efficacy of exercise interventions in improving QOL in cancer survivors, as well as features that may moderate such effects.

Method: Studies were identified and coded, and QOL effect sizes were calculated and analyzed for trends.

Results: Overall, exercise interventions increased QOL, but this tendency depended to some extent on exercise and patient features. Although several features were associated with effect sizes, models revealed that interventions were particularly successful if they targeted more intense aerobic exercise and addressed women. These tendencies emerged over longer periods of time and were more prominent in studies with higher methodological quality.

Conclusion: Appropriately designed exercise interventions enhance QOL for cancer survivors and this pattern is especially evident for women. Limitations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Equivalent
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors* / psychology