Effects of exercise on the quality of life in breast cancer patients: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Support Care Cancer. 2019 Jan;27(1):9-21. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4363-2. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review to assess the effect of exercise on the quality of life among people with breast cancer.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, CINAHL, and four Chinese databases were searched for studies published until January 2018. The review included all randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of exercise on quality of life compared with that of usual care for people with breast cancer. Two reviewers independently assessed the quality of all the included studies using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

Results: In total, 36 studies (3914 participants) met the inclusion criteria. We divided the exercise into three modes: aerobic, resistance, and a combination of aerobic and resistance. All three modes of exercise intervention showed a significant effect on quality of life between groups.

Conclusions: Exercise is a safe and effective method of improving the quality of life in patients with breast cancer. In particular, combined training was associated with a significant improvement in quality of life. In future research, more high-quality, multicenter trials evaluating the effect of exercise in breast cancer patients are needed.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Physical activity; Quality of life; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data