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Exercise with mindfulness interventions combat fatigue in breast cancer survivors

22 Oct 2020

Combining acute aerobic exercise with technology-guided mindfulness interventions is feasible and effective at making breast cancer survivors (BCS) more resilient against fatigue, a new study has found.

“Though these preliminary results should be interpreted with caution, given the small sample, and acute design, findings displayed promising outcomes for a severe problem. The results of this trial are promising and pave the way for replication and extension,” researchers said.

Forty survivors (mean age, 57.33±8.75), with a mean fatigue score of 4.56±1.81 in the Piper Fatigue Scale, were enrolled and assigned randomly to receive aerobic exercise alone, a technology-guided mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programme, or a combination of both. Those who received the combination intervention reported greater enjoyment, as evaluated through a 7-point Likert scale.

Open-ended responses showed that participants overwhelmingly liked the MBSR intervention, noting that the exercises on breathing helped them fight off stress and anxiety and “’is useful at any age and capacity of physical or mental state.’” On the other hand, some comments pointed out that more instructions for the relaxation exercises could have helped them do better.

In addition to the feasibility and acceptability of the combination intervention, researchers also documented strong efficacy. At the final assessment point, BCS who received both interventions had the lowest fatigue, while those who were given the exercise intervention alone had the highest.

Using the Activation Deactivation Adjective Check List, researchers also looked at the comparative effects of the interventions on energy and tiredness. The combination group saw significantly better energy and tiredness than the MBSR and exercise arms, respectively.

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