Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Effects of physical activity on depressive symptoms during breast cancer survivorship: a meta-analysis of randomised control trials
  1. Efrossini D Patsou1,
  2. Georgios D Alexias1,
  3. Fotios G Anagnostopoulos1,
  4. Michalis V Karamouzis2
  1. 1Department of Psychology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Attika, Greece
  2. 2Molecular Oncology Unit, Department of Biological Chemistry and First Department of Internal medicine, Laikon General Hospital, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Attika, Greece
  1. Correspondence to Professor Michalis V Karamouzis; m_karam{at}


BackgroundBreast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide, and depressive symptoms are disturbing side effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Physical activity and exercise have emerged as an alternative treatment in handling psychological distress throughout breast cancer survivorship.

AimThe aim of this review was to present the results of (1) physical activity and (2) exercise interventions in terms of type and duration regarding depressive symptoms among breast cancer survivors during and after treatment. The hypothesis was that cancer survivors who are engaged with physical activity will demonstrate statistically significant lower levels of depressive symptoms when compared with non-exercising control groups.

MethodsWe searched PubMed, Elsevier and Google Scholar for recent articles published between January 2011 and November 2016. Fourteen randomised control trials with 1701 patients in total were assessed.

ResultsSignificant differences in levels were found between exercise intervention groups and control groups, while moderate aerobic exercise interventions with an optimal duration of ≥135 min for up to 12 weeks are significantly more beneficial in depressive symptoms when it comes to patients under treatment than resistance, aerobicandresistance training and yoga interventions.

ConclusionsIt is concluded that when progressive exercise programmes are prescribed according to the individual needs, capabilities and preferences of breast cancer survivors, they offer a valid alternative to depression mood management throughout the course of survivorship.

  • breast cancer
  • physical activity
  • exercise
  • depression
  • depressive symptoms

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors Concept/design: EDP. Drafting and revising critically the article: GDA, FGA and MVK. Final approval of the version to be submitted: MVK.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles