Kids Are Moving: A Physical Activity Program for Children With Cancer

Casey Hooke, Amy Hoelscher, Lynn R. Tanner, Mary Langevin, Ulf G. Bronas, Alexis Maciej, Michelle A Mathiason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Children undergoing cancer treatment are less active than healthy peers. Inactivity persists into survivorship, negatively influencing health and quality of life. Fatigue is one of the most prevalent symptoms during treatment yet children with increased physical activity (PA) have less fatigue. This pilot study evaluated the impact of coaching on PA and fatigue in children undergoing cancer treatment delivered by pediatric oncology nurse practitioners (NPs) during routine clinic visits. NPs used motivational interviewing during clinic visits to coach children and their families on strategies to increase PA at home. Self-report measures of PA and fatigue were completed at treatment months 2, 4, and 6. PA was also measured using actigraphy. Among 30 children ages 6 to 18 years, 7 had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), 11 had lymphoma, and 12 had solid tumors. Patterns of fatigue were different by disease group with trends to fatigue decreasing during treatment in the patients with ALL (p =.09) and lymphoma (p =.13) but increasing in those with solid tumors (p =.06). Self-report PA was unchanged. Actigraph measurements remained stable for the group. NPs reported time challenges in implementing coaching during the clinic visit and in providing coaching continuity. The intensive, repeating chemotherapy cycles in solid tumor treatment may contribute to increasing fatigue. Treatment intensity decreases during ALL and lymphoma treatment, which may allow for improvement in fatigue. Inactivity persisted during treatment but did not progress. Future research is needed to evaluate more “dose-intensive” PA interventions in larger samples of specific disease groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research study was supported by a Discovery Grant: Independent Nurse Researcher from Alex?s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses.


  • cancer
  • children
  • physical activity


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