DVD Motivated Patients to Exercise for Managing Fatigue in Breast Cancer

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Researchers found that exercise plus yoga was most effective in reducing fatigue associated with breast cancer.
Researchers found that exercise plus yoga was most effective in reducing fatigue associated with breast cancer.

Patients with breast cancer were more motivated to use exercise to manage fatigue if an oncologist's recommendation for self-care is complemented with something as simple as a yoga-based DVD, a study published in Supportive Care in Cancer has shown.

Fatigue associated with cancer therapy is a common side effect of treatment and can have debilitating effects on patients' quality of life. Studies have shown that patients undergoing cancer treatment can find relief from fatigue even from nonstrenuous exercise, yet many patients fail to meet guideline recommended levels of physical activity despite suggestions during clinical visits.

For this study, researchers randomly assigned 90 patients with breast cancer at various stages of disease and treatment to receive a verbal recommendation from an oncologist to exercise (REC) or REC plus a cancer-specific yoga DVD (REC + DVD). Follow-ups were completed at baseline, week 4, and week 8. Patient fatigue and other moods, self-efficacy, and exercise readiness were assessed by follow-up surveys. Physical activity levels were measured by average time and total energy expenditure (MET-min/week),

During the course of the study, patients in the REC + DVD arm reported using the DVD an average of twice a week. Patients in both arms reported an improvement on all mood subscales over time, but the REC + DVD arm experienced a greater improvement compared with the REC arm.

The REC + DVD arm reported a greater reduction of fatigue compared with the REC arm (−1.9 ± 5.0 vs −1.0 ± 3.5; P =.02), and also reported less of a decline in physical activity (−420 ± 3075 vs −427 ± 5060 MET-min/week; P =.06).

Women in the REC + DVD arm also maintained their exercise readiness compared with women in the REC arm (−0.1 ± 1.1 vs −0.3 ± 1.3; P =.03).

The authors of the study concluded that the “simple combination of brief advice by an oncologist and a DVD could be easily integrated into routine oncology care and have a meaningful impact on patient health.”


1. Winters-Stone KM, Moe EL, Perry CK, et al. Enhancing an oncologist's recommendation to exercise to manage fatigue levels in breast cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial [published online September 30, 2017]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3909-z

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