Both low and high intensity exercise are beneficial during cancer treatment

Physical activity and exercise during cancer treatment improve physical and mental health and may also reduce the more common side effects of treatment. This has been confirmed in several international studies. Many patients experience cancer-related fatigue, which is called fatigue, and strength and conditioning exercises are known to reduce fatigue.

However, it has not been clarified whether it is important how intense your training is. It is also not known whether additional support in the form of goals, planning and increased training recording leads to better results. To answer these questions, the Phys-Can Training Study, a randomized controlled study at the Universities of Uppsala, Linköping, and Lund was conducted.

He trained for six months

577 participants aged 30 to 84 years old with a recent diagnosis of breast, prostate, or colon / rectal cancer were withdrawn for high or low intensity training in both strength and conditioning exercises. The half was also withdrawn to receive additional support in training. Strength training was performed in a group with a trainer at Friskis & Svettis and the participants performed the fitness training on their own.

The additional support half of the group was primarily concerned with helping to plan and record fitness exercises that were performed on their own. The training period was six months.

After the training period, the groups differed so that the group that trained at high intensity was less physically stressed. They also have better leg muscle strength and a little better condition. With regard to additional support in training, no difference between groups was observed at this follow-up.

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The additional support did not appear to have any effect on the setting – which already contained a lot of support, such as careful training instructions, heart rate monitoring, and group training with a coach with other participants in a similar situation.

Exercise intensity played a lesser role

The conclusions we took from the study are that it doesn’t seem to matter much if the training is high-intensity or low to medium. The results did not differ between the groups in a clinically relevant way – that is, a difference that actually plays a role in the daily lives of the patients, says Ingrid Demelmayr, associate professor of physical therapy at Uppsala University.

Researchers will return with more results from the study, including the effects of training on the participants’ long-term health.

The Phys-Can project is led by Professor Karin Nordin in the Department of Public Health and Care Sciences at Uppsala University. Read more on the project website where there are common scientific summaries of other studies conducted within the project.

Scientific material:

Is exercise intensity important for fatigue during adjuvant (new) cancer treatment? (Phys – Can randomized clinical trial)Demmelmaier et al) The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport


Karen Norden, Professor in the Department of Public Health and Care Sciences at Uppsala University,

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