Patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) experience considerable reductions in physical activity and deterioration of their health status.
The purpose of this pilot study was to test the effects of strength training compared to usual activity on physical activity, muscle strength, fatigue, health status perceptions, and quality of life following HSCT.
Nineteen subjects were randomized to the exercise or control group. Moderate intensity strength training began following discharge from the hospital. Dependent variables included physical activity, muscle strength, fatigue, health status perceptions and quality of life. Variables were measured prior to admission to the hospital for HSCT, day 8 following HSCT, and six weeks following discharge from the hospital.
Significant time effects were noted for many variables with anticipated declines in physical activity, muscle strength, fatigue, and health status perceptions immediately after HSCT with subsequent improvements six weeks following hospital discharge. One group effect was noted with subjects in the exercise group reporting less fatigue than subjects in the control group. Although no significant interactions were detected, the trends suggest that the exercise group may be more physically active following the intervention compared to the usual activity group.
This study demonstrates the potential positive effects of strength training on physical activity, fatigue, and quality of life in people receiving high-dose chemotherapy and HSCT.
Implications for Practice
Preliminary evidence is provided for using strength training to enhance early recovery following HSCT. Elastic resistance bands are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.