In this pilot study, the authors investigated the feasibility of a home-based, remotely guided exercise intervention for patients with gliomas. This was achieved through a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) with randomization (2:1) to exercise or control group.
The six-month intervention included three home-based exercise sessions per week at 60%-85% of maximum heart rate. Participants wore heart rate monitors connected to an online platform to record activities that were monitored weekly by the physiotherapist. Accrual, attrition, adherence, safety, satisfaction, patient-reported physical activity, VO2 peak (by maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing) and body mass index (BMI) were all measured at baseline and at six-month follow-up.
In all, 34 of 136 eligible patients (25%) were randomized to exercise training ( N = 23) or the control group ( N = 11), of whom 19 and 9, respectively, underwent follow-up. Mean adherence to prescribed sessions was 79%. Patients’ experiences were positive. There were no adverse events. Compared to the control group, the exercise group showed larger improvements in absolute VO2 peak (+158.9 mL/min; 95% CI: -44.8 to 362.5) and BMI (-0.3 kg/m²; 95% CI: -0.9 to 0.2). The median increase in physical activity was 1489 metabolic equivalent of task (MET) minutes higher in the exercise group. The most reported reasons for non-participation were lack of motivation or time.
This innovative and intensive home-based exercise intervention was feasible in a small subset of patients with stable gliomas who were interested in exercising. The observed effects suggest that the programme may improve cardiorespiratory fitness. These results support the need for large-scale trials of exercise interventions in brain tumour patients.