Research & Articles

Research: Strength-Focused, Community Based Exercise Programs are Safe and Effective for Cancer Survivors

Newswise — SEATTLE – A study of community-based exercise for cancer survivors that focused on strength training found such exercise is both safe and effective in terms of physical and psychosocial benefit. The findings are published online in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

Corresponding author Karen Syrjala, Ph.D., co-director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program, led the study of 221 cancer survivors who took part in a 12-week “Exercise and Thrive” program offered in conjunction with Seattle-area YMCAs. Overall, the study found the classes helpful for improving fatigue, insomnia, physical function, musculoskeletal symptoms, mental health, social support and physical activity. Additionally, participants had notable improvement in blood pressure, upper and lower body strength, walking endurance and flexibility.

The program focused on strength building because that is the area of greatest need and potential benefit for many cancer survivors. “Cancer can cause loss of muscle mass and result in fatigue. Strength training is needed to rebuild this muscle and to generate energy,” Syrjala said.

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