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Fit for life after cancer: does exercise timing matter?
  1. Dominic O'Connor1,2,
  2. Ailish Daly3,
  3. Conor Mulvin3 and
  4. Olive Lennon2
  1. 1 The Insight Centre for Data Analytics, O’Brien Centre for Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences, Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Physiotherapy Department, Beacon Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dominic O'Connor, The Insight Centre for Data Analytics, O’Brien Centre for Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland; dominic.oconnor{at}


Objectives To assess the effects of a single exercise session per week for 6 weeks on quality of life (QoL), fatigue and exercise participation in male and female cancer survivors with follow-up at 6 months. A secondary aim was to identify if the timing of exercise delivery determined its effect.

Methods An exploratory prospective cohort study design was implemented. Twenty-five patients undergoing or who had completed cancer treatment (11 active treatment; 14 completed treatment) undertook exercise and educational sessions (Fit for Life) 1×/week. The Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer QoL C-30 (EORTC QLQ C-30) and the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ) were used to assess fatigue, QoL and exercise levels, respectively. Participants were evaluated before and after the intervention, and after 6 months.

Results There was a significant group × time interaction for the GLTEQ at 6 months post in favour of exercising during active treatment (p=0.01). No other group × time interactions were observed across the EORTC QLQ C-30 or BFI. There was a significant main effect for time for EORTC QLQ C-30 Global with a significant increase observed between pre and 6 months post.

Conclusions Exercise 1×/week delivered during treatment may impact on long-term exercise participation in adult cancer survivors. This lower volume programme may improve QoL, but has minimal effect on fatigue suggesting an insufficient exercise dosage to impact this variable. This study generates interesting proof of concept results and may be helpful in the development of larger randomised controlled trials.

  • cancer
  • exercise
  • rehabilitation interventions
  • follow-up
  • exercise timing.

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  • Contributors CM and AD were responsible for study design and data collection. DOC analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. OL critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding DOC is supported by a grant from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement number 722012.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.