INTRODUCTION : Exercise rehabilitation has previously been reported effective in attenuating numerous cancer treatment-related toxicities and enhancing the quality of life (QOL) of patients. However, approximately 85% of the patients we see at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance were previously sedentary. These individuals report experiencing much anxiety about starting an exercise program for the first time, and compliance with such programs has been an issue. Therefore, we created a group-based exercise class as an introduction to exercise. Our goal in doing so was to see the impact of this class on fitness parameters, QOL, and exercise compliance after the program ended.
METHODS :82 individuals who were currently undergoing cancer treatment participated in this group-based exercise class. Their results were compared to 200 different individuals who completed one-on-one exercise training. Each group underwent a comprehensive fitness assessment and completed McGill QOL questionnaires at the start of their exercise training, and after 12-weeks of training.Compliance data was also measured for each group. Data was analyzed at the 0.05 level of significance using descriptive statistics
RESULTS :Exercise has a positive impact on fitness parameters for both groups. On average, the one-on-one exercise group experienced greater improvements in all measured parameters. Likewise, QOL improved for both groups, but to a greater extent in the group exercisers. Finally, the group-based exercise had the highest compliance rate (70% vs. 32% in the one-on-one exercise group). (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS :Based on these data, it appears as though exercise can improve fitness parameters during cancer treatment. The individualized, one-on-one approach is the most effective at improving fitness. However, compliance and QOL was higher for those who exercised in a group-based setting. Therefore, this form of exercise may be appropriate to help individuals who are new to exercise get started on a program in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere.