Effects of Nia Exercise in Women Receiving Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:20 AM

Debra V Reis, MSN
Outpatient Oncology Department, Flower Hospital, Sylvania, OH
M Eileen Walsh, PhD, APN, RN-BC, FAHA
Health Promotion Outcomes Systems Policy, College of Nursing, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Tisha Jones, MSW
ProMedica System Grants, ProMedica, Toledo, OH

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify how Nia exercise may benefit women with breast cancer receiving radiation therapy.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss the results of this study and the scientific impact to the literature for non-traditional exercise therapies.

Exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue, a common side effect in cancer patients; up to 80% of cancer patients receiving radiation experience fatigue. Additionally many cancer patients use complementary therapies, such as non-traditional exercise, yet little research has addressed its efficacy. Nia, a non-traditional exercise, provides whole body conditioning along with holistic principles. The purpose of this randomized clinical trial conducted in a large midwestern community based hospital was to compare a 12-week Nia exercise program practiced at home to usual care. Variables included fatigue, quality of life, aerobic capacity and shoulder flexibility in women with Stage I-III breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy. Participants included 41 women aged 34 to 85 years (mean = 56.1): 22 in the Nia group and 19 in the usual care group. The Nia group was instructed to practice Nia 20-60 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks. Those in the usual care group were instructed to continue normal activities. Controlling for baseline scores, change over time between groups was significantly different for the women who practiced Nia at least 13 times over 12 weeks; those in the Nia intervention reported significantly less fatigue between 6 and 12 weeks, as compared to control group (p=0.05). No statistical differences in quality of life, aerobic capacity, or shoulder flexibility were found, but trends favoring Nia were identified. Nia can help relieve fatigue for women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer. Oncology nurses should be aware of non-traditional exercise interventions such as Nia as part of a cancer survivorship program.