Physiatrists at Mayo Clinic recently published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management their findings in a study of a largely unexamined facet of the lives of patients with late-stage cancer: their attitude toward exercise. This qualitative study involved semistructured interviews with 20 adults (half of them age 65 or older) to characterize their beliefs regarding exercise, its relationship to their symptoms, and their clinicians' roles in providing related counseling.
All study participants had Stage IIIB or IV nonsmall cell lung cancer, and they were questioned about their levels of activity, the influence their symptoms had on their activities, perceived barriers and facilitators for exercise, and exercise-related instructions they have received from their professional caregivers.
Many in the study cited their usual daily activities as their source of "exercise." Among younger women, treatment-related symptoms discouraged their participation in exercise activities. Exercise was seldom recognized as a means to mitigate symptoms, yet it was recognized as important for physical and mental well-being. Although respondents preferred to receive guidance from their oncologists, none reported receiving more than general encouragement to "stay active."
According to the authors, effective use of exercise and activity modification to ameliorate cancer-related symptoms appears to require a linkage to a patient's usual and past activities, proactive negotiation of potential barriers, education regarding symptoms and exercise, and the positive support of their oncologist.
Read the full article on PubMed.