News & Insights 10 February 2022

Managing fatigue for cancer survivors

Feelings of fatigue are very common symptoms experienced by people who are diagnosed with cancer, but each individual experience with fatigue is different. Often, it gets better after treatment ends, yet up to 30% of cancer survivors experience persistent fatigue for years after diagnosis. This can make returning to feeling ‘normal’ seem like an impossible challenge. Despite this, there are ways to help reduce and manage fatigue in a way that is accessible and appealing to everyone.

A new meta-analysis has found that low to moderate physical activity performed at home can reduce fatigue in cancer survivors who have completed their treatment. The analysis included 11 studies and over 1000 cancer survivors, mostly women with a history of breast cancer:

Home-based physical activity interventions that are of low to moderate intensity reduce fatigue in adult cancer survivors immediately after the intervention, and those favourable effects may even persist for prolonged periods thereafter.”

Physical activity has regularly been shown to play an important role in fatigue management, optimisation of energy levels, and improvement in quality of life for cancer survivors and other conditions that are associated with chronic fatigue. However, rather than simply looking to increase activity levels, the focus for anyone experiencing fatigue should be on optimising physical activity. Techniques such as pacing, activity management, sleep management and relaxation are all key to ensure a steady recovery which gives better control over feelings of fatigue.

Home-based physical activity is an option that is accessible to everyone and does not have to be strenuous, with this research showing that even low intensity physical activity can be extremely beneficial. Each and every movement you make is physical activity, so something as simple as moving more throughout the day can make all the difference. This could include everyday activities such as housework, preparing food and gardening; every move matters. With this understanding, the thought of being physically active is far less daunting.

The analysis also noted that, “Physical activity interventions that used frequent counselling were associated with larger improvements in fatigue than those using no or infrequent counselling.” This highlights the need for appropriate support and guidance when it comes to increasing physical activity levels after a cancer diagnosis. It can be difficult to find the optimum level of physical activity when you are impacted by fatigue and having someone to support you through the process can make finding this level more straightforward and decrease the risk of over-exertion.

Every personal experience of cancer treatment and recovery is different, meaning there is no single approach which suits everyone. This is a challenge that we are looking to address and overcome with KiActiv® Health. The personalised nature of the service puts the client in control and enables them to take responsibility over their own health, set appropriate goals, and go about achieving these in a way which suits their personal context and environment.

At KiActiv® we empower you to optimise your physical activity in the context of your fatigue, lifestyle and preferences. We aim to support you in self-managing your physical activity to benefit your health in a way that suits you, using effective techniques such as pacing. This is fundamental to individuals living with fatigue, where everyone’s symptoms are different, and taking your health into your own hands provides you with a management tool that will benefit your health and quality of life, that can be sustained long-term.

The KiActiv® Team