|Exercise participation among cancer survivors has been shown to improve quality of life and physical functioning, yet only 10%-30% of survivors meet physical activity guidelines. In prostate cancer, aerobic exercise after prostate cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of prostate cancer recurrence or death by up to 60 percent.
Sedentary behavior increased during the pandemic, but “stay at home” restrictions have also provided an opportunity to examine home-based exercise programs, according to a new paper by PCF-funded researcher Christina Dieli-Conwright, PhD, MPH of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and colleagues. The team reviewed 12 studies of exercise interventions in people with cancer that were all home-based and adapted for pandemic restrictions.
The approaches broadly included:Self-directed, unsupervised: recommendation to adhere to exercise guidelines or to complete a daily exercise program with accompanying resources (e.g., video)Self-directed, with regular guidance: online videos, smart watches, and printed materials supplemented with regular phone calls or messages to patientsVirtually supervised interventions: one-on-one or group exercise sessions over videoconferencing.
Although this review did not aim to determine which approach was most effective, it did yield some preliminary information about home-based exercise programs in cancer survivors and identified challenges and areas for further research. For example, in the virtually supervised programs, adherence was quite high, ranging from 84%-94%. In two trials in breast and prostate cancer, attendance and retention were actually higher in the virtual sessions held during the pandemic, compared with in-person supervision prior to COVID-19.