Exercise Benefits Quality of Life After Cancer

Research has shown that exercise can improve the quality of life of patients with cancer, but barriers exist when it comes to patients getting the exercise they need. So, two trials are working to find feasible exercise interventions for this patient population and see how they affect quality of life.

The DECIDE and RELEVIUM projects are being conducted to study if incorporating psychical activity can improve quality of life for individuals with cancer and depression. Both projects are focusing on increasing exercise load management for patients with colon, lung and pancreatic cancer, alongside patients diagnosed with depression.

READ MORE: Exercise Can Help Empower Patients With Cancer

These two projects, established by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), investigate how psychical activity can be incorporated into a patient’s daily life with the help of digital tools, such as wearables of mobile apps, to track data collection and analysis. The overall goal of the project is to improve quality of life in patients.

“With this smart data concept, we want to employ a digital infrastructure to support people with internal diseases as well as the exercise therapists who guide the patients’ exercise therapy,” said Barlo Hillen, research associate of JGU’s Department of Sports Medicine, Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation.

The DECIDE project is focusing on improving support services to patients with colon and lung cancer, alongside depression. The University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is reaching out to regional hospitals, physicians and self-help groups to directly help its patients.

The RELEVIUM project is focusing on the support of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The goal of this project is to address the pain and uncontrolled weight loss of these patients undergoing chemotherapy through nutrition, psychical activity and pain management.

Sarcopenia, nutritional intake, physical activity and pain perception will be evaluated throughout the use of digital systems. The JGU Sports Medicine Research Group is going to offer guidance on psychical exercises and help project consortium by establishing clinical trials at five medical centers in Europe, following analysis of the data collected.

“We will determine the effect of the smart data concept and investigate if patients do actually benefit from the use of digital tools and experience a better quality of life,” noted Hillen.

The JGU plans to use digital support systems to regulate patients daily psychical activity that is individualized. A smartwatch will be used to register a patient’s data, followed by their pain and exertion. The data collected is then transfers to their smartphone, where feedback and data analysis is evaluated. This then directs patients to training recommendations, which can include strength exercise, endurance exercise, walking, jogging and mobility training.

“In previous projects, it was necessary to analyze exercise protocols and draw up training plans manually. That was very time-consuming. Our digital tools will be able to process most of this work automatically, enhancing the efficiency of the process,” added Hillen.

DECIDE is currently in a ‘pilot phase’ in studying participants, while RELEVIUM has 18 partners location in ten different countries. The project has plans to run until 2026 after being launched in 2022.

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