Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 9–21 | Cite as

Effects of exercise on the quality of life in breast cancer patients: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

  • Xinyan Zhang
  • Yuxiang Li
  • Dongling LiuEmail author
Review Article



The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review to assess the effect of exercise on the quality of life among people with breast cancer.


We conducted a systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, CINAHL, and four Chinese databases were searched for studies published until January 2018. The review included all randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of exercise on quality of life compared with that of usual care for people with breast cancer. Two reviewers independently assessed the quality of all the included studies using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.


In total, 36 studies (3914 participants) met the inclusion criteria. We divided the exercise into three modes: aerobic, resistance, and a combination of aerobic and resistance. All three modes of exercise intervention showed a significant effect on quality of life between groups.


Exercise is a safe and effective method of improving the quality of life in patients with breast cancer. In particular, combined training was associated with a significant improvement in quality of life. In future research, more high-quality, multicenter trials evaluating the effect of exercise in breast cancer patients are needed.


Breast cancer Physical activity Quality of life Systematic review 



Breast cancer subscale


Body Image and Relationships Scale


European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Breast


European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30


Effect Size


Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia scale


Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast questionnaire


Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General


Functional well-being


Health-related quality of life


Mental health


Physical Component Summary


Quality of life


Randomized controlled trials


36-item Short-Form Health Survey


Trial Outcome Index-Anemia


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingJilin UniversityJilinPeople’s Republic of China

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