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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 1820954, 13 pages
Review Article

Effects of Exercise Interventions and Physical Activity Behavior on Cancer Related Cognitive Impairments: A Systematic Review

1Department of Molecular and Cellular Sport Medicine, Institute of Cardiovascular Research and Sports Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany
2Chair of Sports Medicine, Chemnitz University of Technology, Thüringer Weg 11, 09126 Chemnitz, Germany
3German Center of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Arnoldstraße 18, 01307 Dresden, Germany
4Department I of Internal Medicine, Center for Integrated Oncology Köln Bonn, University of Cologne, Kerpener Straße 62, 50937 Cologne, Germany
5Edith Cowan University Health and Wellness Institute, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia

Received 5 January 2016; Revised 19 March 2016; Accepted 22 March 2016

Academic Editor: Danilo S. Bocalini

Copyright © 2016 Philipp Zimmer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This systematic review analyzes current data on effects of exercise interventions and physical activity behavior on objective and subjective cancer related cognitive impairments (CRCI). Out of the 19 studies which met all inclusion criteria, five RCTs investigated rodents, whereas the other 14 trials explored humans and these included six RCTs, one controlled trial, two prospective noncontrolled trials, one case series, one observational study, and three cross-sectional studies. The results from animal models revealed positive effects of exercise during and after chemotherapy or radiation on structural alterations of the central nervous system, physiological as well as neuropsychological outcomes. The overall study quality in patient studies was poor. The current data on intervention studies showed preliminary positive effects of Asian-influenced movement programs (e.g., Yoga) with benefits on self-perceived cognitive functions as well as a reduction of chronic inflammation for breast cancer patients in the aftercare. Exercise potentially contributes to the prevention and rehabilitation of CRCI. Additional RCTs with standardized neuropsychological assessments and controlling for potential confounders are needed to confirm and expand preliminary findings.