Acute effects of aerobic exercise and relaxation training on fatigue in breast cancer survivors: A feasibility trial

Psychooncology. 2021 Feb;30(2):252-259. doi: 10.1002/pon.5561. Epub 2020 Oct 14.


Objective: This three-armed randomized controlled feasibility trial tested the acceptability and acute effects of aerobic exercise and technology-guided mindfulness training (relative to standalone interventions) on cancer-related fatigue among breast cancer survivors (BCS).

Methods: BCS recruited from Central Illinois completed pre- and post-testing using established measures and were randomized to one of three groups (combined aerobic exercise with guided-mindfulness relaxation, aerobic exercise only, and relaxation only), conducted in three 90 min sessions over the course of 7 days in a fitness room and research office on a university campus.

Results: We enrolled 40 BCS (Mage = 57.33 ± 8.75), MBMI = 27.38 ± 5.27, Mfatigue = 4.56 ± 1.81 as measured by the Piper Fatigue Scale. More favorable post-intervention evaluations were reported by the combined group, compared to aerobic exercise or relaxation only (p < 0.05). Reductions in fatigue favoring the combined group (p = 0.05) showed a modest effect size (Cohen's d = 0.91) compared to aerobic exercise only.

Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary evidence for the feasibility of combining evidence-based techniques to address fatigue among BCS. The combined approach, incorporating mobile health technology, presents an efficacious and well-received design. If replicated in longer trials, the approach could provide a promising opportunity to deliver broad-reaching interventions for improved outcomes in BCS. Preregistered-ClinicalTrials NCT03702712.

Keywords: aerobic exercise; breast cancer; cancer; fatigue; feasibility; mindfulness based stress reduction; psycho-oncology; relaxation; survivorship; technology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Cancer Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data