Effect of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Exercise Program on Physical Activity, Fitness, Quality of Life, and Fatigue in Cancer Survivors

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical activity (PA) has been linked to a lower risk of developing and dying of cancer, yet many cancer survivors do not exercise. In the current study, the authors evaluated the impact of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program, available at Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCAs) across the United States, on PA, fitness, quality of life, fatigue, body composition, serum biomarkers, and program safety in cancer survivors.

METHODS:

Cancer survivors were recruited through the Yale Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and randomized to a 12-week, twice-weekly LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program at YMCAs in Connecticut or Massachusetts or to a control group. Questionnaires, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans, 6-minute walk tests (6MWTs), and a fasting blood draw were completed at baseline and at 12 weeks. Intervention effects were evaluated using mixed model repeated measures analysis, with changes at 12 weeks in PA and 6MWT as the primary endpoints.

RESULTS:

A total of 186 participants were randomized (95 to the exercise group and 91 to the control group). The majority of patients were diagnosed with AJCC stage I to II cancer and 53% had breast cancer. Participants randomized to the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program experienced increases in PA (71% exercising at ≥ 150 minutes/week vs 26% of controls; P<.05) and improvements in the 6MWT (group difference: 28.9 meters [95% confidence interval, 0.3-49.0; P = .004]) and quality of life (group difference: 2.6 [95% confidence interval, 0.1-5.0; P = .04]). No adverse events were reported.

CONCLUSIONS:

The LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program has the potential to impact thousands of survivors across the YMCA network and could lead to improvements in disease and psychosocial outcomes in the growing population of cancer survivors.

The LIVESTRONG at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) exercise program is safe and effective for improving physical activity, fitness, fatigue, and quality of life in cancer survivors. This program has the potential to impact thousands of survivors across the YMCA network and could lead to improvements in disease and psychosocial outcomes in the growing population of cancer survivors.

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