Physical activity interventions in older people with cancer: A review of systematic reviews

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Introduction: Whilst there has been a wealth of research on benefits of physical activity (PA) in people with cancer, with three published reviews of reviews, no review of reviews has focused on older adults (65 years or older) who may have unique biological characteristics and barriers. We summarised PA effectiveness from reviews where majority of study participants were 65 years or older. Methods: Six databases were searched for systematic reviews of randomised controlled studies (RCTs)/quasi-RCTs examining any type of PA in reviews where majority of study participants were aged 65 years or older. Two reviewers conducted the search and analysis according to PRISMA and JBI guidelines. Results: Fifteen reviews involving 76 different primary studies (5404 participants) were included. The majority (3827; 71%) had prostate cancer. PA was associated with benefits across multiple physical outcomes (muscle mass, functional performance, strength), improved fatigue and health service outcomes. In contrast to younger adults, there was no improvement in anxiety and mixed findings for quality of life and depression. Conclusion: PA is associated with multiple benefits in older adults with cancer, with some differences compared to younger individuals which may reflect biological or behavioural determinants. Future research should focus on mechanisms underlying PA effectiveness and underrepresented populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13637
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number5
Early online date22 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • cancer
  • interventions
  • older people
  • oncology
  • physical activity
  • survivorship


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