Research Article| Volume 13, ISSUE 2, P152-160, March 2022

A randomized-controlled trial comparing supervised aerobic training to resistance training followed by unsupervised exercise on physical functioning in older breast cancer survivors

Published:August 20, 2021DOI:



      This study compared the relative efficacy of aerobic training to resistance training on physical functioning in older breast cancer survivors and determined whether benefits could be maintained by transitioning to unsupervised home-based training.

      Materials and methods

      Early-stage, post-treatment, older (≥65 years) breast cancer survivors (n = 114; mean age 72 years) were randomized to 12 months of supervised aerobic (n = 37), resistance (n = 39) or stretching (active control; n = 38) training followed by 6 months of unsupervised home-based training. Outcomes included aerobic capacity by 6-min walk distance (6MWD; m), maximal upper and lower body strength (1-repetition maximum; kg); physical function by short physical performance battery (SPPB), SF-36 and Late Life Function and Disability Instruments.


      Over 12-months of supervised exercise, all groups improved in muscle strength and SPPB scores, but resistance trained women also improved 6MWD. Improvements in upper and lower body strength in the resistance group were significantly greater than those in the stretching control (+2.5 kg vs. +1.8 kg; p = 0.05) and aerobic groups (+8.3 kg vs +2.7 kg; p = 0.047), respectively, with trends for greater improvements in 6MWD (+57.9 m vs. +22.5 m; p = 0.057) and self-report physical function (+4.8 vs. -4.4; 0.066) in resistance trained women versus controls. Compared to values at 12 months, there were no changes during unsupervised training in any measure within or between groups, except for self-reported advanced lower extremity function which improved in the resistance group and fell in the aerobic group (+1.3 vs. -3.1; p = 0.043).


      Supervised exercise can improve strength and physical functioning among older breast cancer survivors. Resistance training may lead to better improvements compared to aerobic or flexibility training, whether in a supervised or unsupervised setting.


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