Strength training significantly enhances the quality of life of women recently treated for breast cancer, according to a new study. Published March 27 online at www.cancer.org, the study found that 6 months of twice-weekly exercise that improved strength and body composition was enough to benefit patients’ overall physical and emotional condition. (The study was also published in the May 1 issue of CANCER.) This is the first randomized trial to study the effects of weight training on quality of life in breast cancer patients.

Researchers studied 86 women within 36 months of their cancer treatment. The women either participated in a weight training program or did no exercise. Compared to the no-exercise regimen, weight training improved the women’s overall physical and psychosocial quality of life. The greatest impact on symptoms came from significant gains in lean body mass and upper-body strength.

“Changes in body composition and strength,” concluded the authors, may empower these women with “a sense of return to feeling in control of their bodies that may translate into feeling greater efficacy in other areas of life.”