The research team from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that physical activity can significantly improve symptoms of fatigue and depression, increase cardiovascular endurance and maintain quality of life for adult patients undergoing treatment for leukemia.
They recruited a total of 10 patients undergoing treatment in the EQUAL (Exercise and Quality of Life in Leukemia/ Lymphoma Patients) study and of them were provided with specially treated exercise equipment to minimize the risk of infection.
The exercise prescription comprised of aerobic and resistance exercises, core exercises, and light stretches tailored to the patient's level of fitness and leukemia symptoms.
"We found that the patients experienced significant reduction in total fatigue and depression scores, as well as improved cardiorespiratory endurance and maintenance of muscular endurance," said Dr Claudio Battaglini, assistant professor of exercise and sport science and UNC Lineberger member.
"This is important because of the numerous side-effects related to cancer treatment, and particularly leukemia treatment, which requires confinement to a hospital room for 4-6 weeks to avoid the risk of infection.
"We have demonstrated that these patients not only can complete an exercise program in the hospital but that they may receive both physiological and psychological benefits that could assist in their recovery," he added.
The study appears in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.