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Can exercise battle cancer-related fatigue?

Physical activity and psychological intervention found to be more effective than medication in treating cancer-related fatigue



Newton’s first law of motion - commonly summarized by the mantra “an object in motion stays in motion,” holds true for most things. Added to that list by findings of a study published in JAMA Oncology is a surprising group: patients experiencing cancer-related fatigue.


Analyzing data from 113 clinical trials, the study included 11,525 patients experiencing cancer-related fatigue (CRF) between the ages of 35 and 72. The effects of the four most commonly recommended treatments for CRF - physical activity, medication, psychological intervention such as cognitive therapy, and the combination of physical activity and intervention - were measured. 


Researchers found that not only are exercise and psychological intervention equally effective in reducing CRF, but pharmaceutical options are significantly less effective. The study recommends that doctors prescribe exercise or psychological intervention prior to resorting to medication. 


While exercise is not likely to be on the forefront of the minds of cancer patients experiencing CRF, the benefits of physical activity are far greater than those of adding yet another medication to treatment regimens. Engaging in light exercise such as short walks will keep patients moving forward; improving quality of life, mood, and recovery.





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