A six-week study involving 619 cancer patients has found that those who took part in a simple home-based exercise program significantly reduced their cognitive impairment ('chemo-brain'). The EXCAP (Exercise for Cancer Patients) was developed by the researchers some years ago, and this evaluation was a phase III randomized study for early-stage chemotherapy patients. Half the group were given standard care (no exercise during chemotherapy), while the others were given instruction to walk daily and carry out low-to-moderate resistance band training for 10 minutes, 5 days a week.
This very modest increase in exercise (the 'no-exercise' group walked on average 3,800 steps a day, while the excap group walked on average 5,000 steps) had significant effects:
- lower levels of inflammation
- less brain 'fogginess'
- fewer memory problems
- greater mobility.
Exercisers who received chemotherapy in 2-week cycles reported the greatest benefits, compared to other timing cycles.
The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting on June 1, by Karen Mustian.