Skip to content

Cancer – Helps body composition

Body Composition – During and Post

A small reduction was observed in body weight in 1 meta-analysis in which both aerobic and resistance exercise was included (16 RCTs). A slight reduction in body fat percentage was seen in the same meta-analyses for breast cancer (10 RCTs).[4] This study only looked at post treatment. A further systematic review looked at 15 RCTs – 6 studies looked at patients undergoing active treatment and 9 studies post treatment.[10] A small improvement in body composition was observed for resistance exercise interventions.

Quality of evidence

Grade B – Moderate Quality – A number of RCTs have been conducted on this topic, however there is a variety of interventions that have been used. There is a significant correlation however demonstrated in patients showing an improvement in body weight for all cancer types, and a slight reduction which is seen in patients with breast cancer for body fat percentage. When grouped together there is also moderate evidence with a small improvement seen specifically for resistance exercise interventions.

Strength of recommendation

Weak – Grade 2 – Heterogenous study designs presented. There is a need for more robust RCTs with specific interventions studied. There will be however an overall benefit of physical activity and any further studies are likely to be prove this.


Physical activity appears to have an overall benefit in body composition.  The evidence suggests that this predominantly in patients who undergo resistance-based exercises both during and post treatment in its analysis.

  1. Cramp, F. and J. Byron-Daniel, Exercise for the management of cancer-related fatigue in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2012. 11: p. CD006145.
  2. Brown, J.C., et al., Efficacy of exercise interventions in modulating cancer-related fatigue among adult cancer survivors: a meta-analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2011. 20(1): p. 123-33.
  3. Cramer, H., et al., A systematic review and meta-analysis of exercise interventions for colorectal cancer patients. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl), 2014. 23(1): p. 3-14.
  4. Fong, D.Y., et al., Physical activity for cancer survivors: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ, 2012. 344: p. e70.
  5. Mishra, S.I., et al., Exercise interventions on health-related quality of life for cancer survivors. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2012(8): p. CD007566.
  6. Cavalheri, V., et al., Exercise training undertaken by people within 12 months of lung resection for non-small cell lung cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2013(7): p. CD009955.
  7. Craft, L.L., et al., Exercise effects on depressive symptoms in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2012. 21(1): p. 3-19.
  8. Dennett, A.M., et al., Moderate-intensity exercise reduces fatigue and improves mobility in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-regression. J Physiother, 2016. 62(2): p. 68-82.
  9. Chan, R.J., et al., Systematic review of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions to manage cognitive alterations after chemotherapy for breast cancer. Eur J Cancer, 2015. 51(4): p. 437-50.
  10. Focht, B.C., et al., Resistance exercise interventions during and following cancer treatment: a systematic review. J Support Oncol, 2013. 11(2): p. 45-60.