A 12-Week Exercise and Stress Management Pilot Program From Theory Through Implementation and Assessment

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To assess the response of a 12-week exercise, education, and stress management program on the fatigue levels of a heterogeneous group of fatigued cancer survivors in a community setting.


Peer-reviewed evidence was translated into a community-based exercise and stress management program for cancer-related fatigue. Inclusion criteria were adult with a cancer diagnosis, a score of 4 or more on a 0-10 fatigue scale, and the ability to walk for 10 continuous minutes. The 12-week program included 10 weeks of supervised moderate-intensity aerobic and strength training combined with 2 unsupervised weeks. During the 10 supervised sessions, participants also received education on nutrition, stress management, and sleep.

Outcome Measures:

Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Fatigue, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer, Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT), and Sit-to-Stand Test.


Sixteen cancer survivors completed the program (mean age = 68.5 years). Sixty-two percent were female, and 24% had breast cancer. Significant improvements were noted in fatigue (P = .008), physical well-being (P = .004), and in the anxiety subscale scores of the HADS (P = .047). Increases in 6MWT distance (P = .002) and Sit-to-Stand Test score (P = .018) were also observed. Significant reductions in psychological distress were found (P = .003); however, no significant changes were observed in emotional well-being ( P = .855), social well-being (P = .327), or depression (P = .221).


Because of attrition, this pilot study had a modest sample size. Study findings require replication with larger sample sizes.


A 12-week exercise, stress management, and education program may be effective in reducing fatigue in a heterogeneous group of cancer survivors in a community setting.

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