Delivering exercise medicine to cancer survivors: has COVID-19 shifted the landscape for how and who can be reached with supervised group exercise?

Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Cassie Boisvert, Fuzhong Li, Karen S. Lyons, Tomasz M. Beer, Zahi Mitri, Gabrielle Meyers, Elizabeth Eckstrom, Kristin L. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Due to stay-at-home orders during COVID-19, we transitioned supervised, group, in-person resistance training interventions in two clinical trials in cancer survivors to live, online delivery using video-conferencing technology. We describe the feasibility, preliminary efficacy, and safety of live online group training and compare to in-person training. Methods: Adherence (% sessions attended), retention (% participants completing intervention), and safety (# adverse events) data of resistance training groups from two randomized controlled trials in cancer survivors that participated before or during the COVID-19 pandemic were collated. Participants were post-treatment breast cancer survivors and their spouses (n = 62) and prostate cancer survivors (n = 32) (age range: 38–82 years). During COVID-19, delivery of supervised, group resistance exercise sessions was delivered live online via video-conference. Preliminary evidence for training efficacy was assessed by chair stand performance over the 6-month intervention. Results: Feasibility of online resistance training was better than in-person for both studies (adherence: 86% vs 82% and 91% vs. 81% and retention 95% vs. 80% and 92% vs. 84% for online and in-person classes). Improvements in chair stand time were similar in prostate cancer and spouse groups that trained online vs. in-person, except for breast cancer survivors who improved more with in-person training (7% vs. 14% for online vs. in-person). Safety was similar between formats (12 vs. 11 adverse events for online vs. in-person). Conclusion: Supervised, in-person group resistance training can be feasibly adapted for live, online delivery and could help broaden approaches to exercise delivery in cancer survivors, including older adults. Trial registration: The studies described in this commentary were registered on on August 3, 2018 (NCT03630354) and on October 30, 2018 (NCT03741335).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1903-1906
Number of pages4
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Cancer survivor
  • Clinical trial
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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