A randomized, controlled trial of aerobic exercise for treatment-related fatigue in men receiving radical external beam radiotherapy for localized prostate carcinoma.

Windsor PM, Nicol KF, Potter J.


Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom. [email protected]



Advice to rest and take things easy if patients become fatigued during radiotherapy may be detrimental. Aerobic walking improves physical functioning and has been an intervention for chemotherapy-related fatigue. A prospective, randomized, controlled trial was performed to determine whether aerobic exercise would reduce the incidence of fatigue and prevent deterioration in physical functioning during radiotherapy for localized prostate carcinoma.


Sixty-six men were randomized before they received radical radiotherapy for localized prostate carcinoma, with 33 men randomized to an exercise group and 33 men randomized to a control group. Outcome measures were fatigue and distance walked in a modified shuttle test before and after radiotherapy.


There were no significant between group differences noted with regard to fatigue scores at baseline (P = 0.55) or after 4 weeks of radiotherapy (P = 0.18). Men in the control group had significant increases in fatigue scores from baseline to the end of radiotherapy (P = 0.013), with no significant increases observed in the exercise group (P = 0.203). A nonsignificant reduction (2.4%) in shuttle test distance at the end of radiotherapy was observed in the control group; however, in the exercise group, there was a significant increase (13.2%) in distance walked (P = 0.0003).


Men who followed advice to rest and take things easy if they became fatigued demonstrated a slight deterioration in physical functioning and a significant increase in fatigue at the end of radiotherapy. Home-based, moderate-intensity walking produced a significant improvement in physical functioning with no significant increase in fatigue. Improved physical functioning may be necessary to combat radiation fatigue.