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Keywords:

  • Breast cancer;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Exercise;
  • Fatigue;
  • Physical functioning;
  • Quality of life

Purpose: Despite the recognition of fatigue as a common and distressing symptom during cancer treatment, there are few evidence-based interventions available to manage such fatigue. The purpose of this multi-institutional pilot study was to explore the effects of a home-based moderate walking exercise intervention on fatigue, physical functioning, emotional distress, and quality of life (QOL) during breast cancer treatment.

Description of study: Fifty-two women were recruited from five university hospital outpatient departments for this pilot study with an experimental design. Subjects were randomly assigned to the walking program or to usual care during adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation therapy for breast cancer. Symptoms, physical functioning, and QOL were measured at baseline, midtreatment, and at the end of treatment.

Results: Women who exercised at least 90 minutes per week on 3 or more days reported significantly less fatigue and emotional distress as well as higher functional ability and QOL than women who were less active during treatment.

Clinical implications: A home-based walking exercise program is a potentially effective, low-cost, and safe intervention to manage fatigue and to improve QOL during adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation therapy for breast cancer. This health-promoting self-care activity needs further testing in large randomized clinical trials.