In addition to lowering cancer risk, regular exercise before lung cancer surgery may improve postoperative outcomes, especially in lung cancer, according to the results of a literature review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers evaluated 17 articles that discussed studies spanning 806 patients with six different cancer types, including lung cancer. The studies mostly involved aerobic (e.g., walking) or respiratory (e.g., breathing training) exercise that was performed for one to two weeks before surgery. Depending on the protocol or treatment group, patients did the exercises in a range from three times per week to three times per day.

The evidence showed that preoperative exercise reduced postoperative complication rates and length of hospital stay by a mean of 2.86 days for patients undergoing lung resection. They could only demonstrate sufficient evidence for lung cancer surgery because it was studied in six trials versus one or two trials for the other cancers.

Additionally, they saw a larger effect size in the trials where patients performed the exercises more frequently, “suggesting a dose-response relationship,” the researchers said.

ONS’s Putting Evidence Into Practice resources also emphasize the benefits of exercise in patients with cancer. For more information and resources to help you recommend exercise to your patients, visit ONS’s Get Up, Get Moving webpage.