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Benefits of Physical Activity (PA)
for Tertiary Prevention

Benefits of physical activity during cancer treatment

There is strong evidence for the role of exercise prescription to manage the following side effects: anxiety, depressive symptoms, fatigue, health related quality of life, lymphoedema and physical function. Not only can physical activity reduce those symptoms, but the combination of exercising with other healthy lifestyle habits may also help reduce cancer mortality risk.


In advanced-stage cancer, exercise (either resistance or aerobic exercise, or combined) may be an effective intervention to counter fatigue.

Neuropathic pain:

Exercise may be beneficial for improving neuropathic pain, and it is a safe, cost-effective and ideal adjuvant intervention to chemotherapy.


Resistance training is beneficial for physical functioning, increasing strength. Clinical practice guidelines should be updated to inform health care providers.

Reduced range of motion:

Exercise interventions resulted in better outcomes concerning physical function. Mood, physical function and quality of life improvement is far better when exercise was supervised.


Exercise may be effective in the prevention of lymphoedema occurrence, regardless of the type of exercise.

Cardiopulmonary function:

Aerobic exercise during or after cancer adjuvant therapy seems to be an effective effect on cardiopulmonary function. Supervised exercise training is associated with significant improvements in VO2 peak following a diagnosis of early-stage cancer.

Benefits of physical activity in cancer survivors

Cancer survivors report fair or poor health after cancer treatment and also, they have psychosocial disabilities and physical and functional limitations in comparison with persons without cancer. The most common side effects of cancer disease and cancer treatment are fatigue, poor quality of life and emotional distress, also some adverse effects as a consequence of the treatments received, such as functional limitation, dyspnea and risk of recurrence and even death.




The article is based on the following papers::

Adriaenssens, N., Lyudmilova, K., Strimpakos, N., Rotem, N., Sheill, G., Cannone, N., Gigli, L., Tiesnese, L., Descloux, A., MacKenzie, A., Perez Navarro, M., Carpio García, A., Suarez-Serrano, C. (2023). The Role of Physiotherapy in Cancer Care in the Europe Region: A Position Paper of the Cancer Working Group of Europe Region World Physiotherapy. Journal of Cancer Rehabilitation, 6(2): 74-79.

Muñoz-Fernández, M.J., Medrano-Sánchez, E.M., Ostos-Díaz, B., Martín-Valero, R., Suárez-Serrano, C. and Casuso-Holgado , M.J. (2021). Preliminary Study on the Effect of an Early Physical Therapy Intervention after Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: A Multicenter Non-Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (3). 

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