It has been known for some time that exercise is important for cancer patients, but few studies have looked at the practicality of exercise programs and whether even a minimal workout can help. Exercise can reduce cancer-related fatigue, improve sleep, boost a sense of wellness, and reduce the recurrence of certain types of tumors. A Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that a brief, at-home exercise program -- dubbed the Rapid, Easy, Strength Training program, or REST, -- was sufficient to increase cancer patients' mobility and reduce fatigue.
"We talk a lot about how important it is for cancer patients to exercise, but until now, nobody has questioned whether less may be more for patients negotiating the demands of cancer treatment," says lead author Andrea Cheville, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "This was the first trial to investigate what's feasible and helpful for patients with limited time and energy."
An interdisciplinary team of Mayo Clinic researchers developed an at-home exercise regimen, involving a pedometer-based walking program and a series of gentle resistance movements -- lifts and curls using a resistance band — that can be done standing or seated. The workout takes only a few minutes a day, with minimal cost to patients.