In one review, 56 trials were examined involving a total of 4,826 people undergoing treatment for different types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. A second review focused on 40 trials involving a total of 3,694 people who had completed treatment for cancer.
Lead author Shiraz I. Mishra of the Prevention Research Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, said exercise involved in both reviews included walking, cycling, yoga, Qigong, resistance training and strength training.
The findings, published in the Cochrane Library, showed exercise could improve health-related quality of life for people with cancer, and both reviews showed exercise improved social functioning and energy.
"Together, these reviews suggest that exercise may provide quality of life benefits for people who are undergoing or have undergone treatment for cancer," Mishra said in a statement. "However, we need to treat these findings with caution because the trials we included looked at many different kinds of exercise programs. We need to understand from future trials how to maintain the positive impacts of exercise in the longer term and whether there are particular types of exercise that are suited to particular types of cancer."