Exercise May Help in Leukemia Recovery

Small study finds physical activity reduces depression and fatigue

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THURSDAY, Aug. 13, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise helps improve symptoms of fatigue and depression experienced by leukemia patients who are undergoing treatment, a new study shows.

It included 10 people who did individualized exercise sessions while in the hospital for the three to five weeks of the induction phase of leukemia treatment. The sessions included aerobic and resistance exercises, core exercises and light stretches that were tailored to each person's fitness level and leukemia symptoms.

When they were discharged from the hospital, the participants were given an aerobic-based exercise program to use during their two-week home recovery period.

They were assessed at the start of the study and after they'd completed the exercise program.

"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," Claudio Battaglini, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the university's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a university news release.

"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 four to six weeks to avoid the risk of infection," Battaglini said. "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."

The study was published in the current issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about leukemia.

SOURCE: University of North Carolina School of Medicine, news release, Aug. 3, 2009


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