Multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of plasma cells, is characterised by osteolytic bone disease. Fatigue and muscle weakness are common treatment side effects. Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for reducing disease and treatment-related side effects in people living with and beyond cancer. However, the high rate of bone lesions in people with multiple myeloma raises concerns for the safety and feasibility of exercise participation in this population.
This project – the MyeEx Study – was a randomised controlled trial to evaluate a novel, evidence-based exercise program, specially designed to improve the quality of life and physical function of people with multiple myeloma. Safety, feasibility and acceptability of the program was also evaluated.
The trial involved 12 weeks of twice-weekly exercise training sessions, individually supervised by an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP), plus a prescribed weekly home exercise session 1. Each 60-minute session consisted of high-intensity interval training, moderate-to-hard intensity muscle strengthening exercises and impact loading activities.
Participants were volunteers with any stage of multiple myeloma with approval from their treating haematologist at the partner hospitals Greenslopes Private Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the North Lakes Health Precinct. Physical testing was conducted at The University of Queensland School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences every 3-6 months during study participation. After baseline testing, participants were randomised to either wait for 3 months before starting the exercise program, or to start exercise immediately.
Results confirmed that the exercise program was safe, acceptable and generally feasible for people with multiple myeloma 2. Participant interviews were consistently positive, with one-on-one supervision from AEPs and the provision of a personalised exercise program highlighted as key features for acceptability. Furthermore, comparisons between the exercise and waitlist group indicated significant improvements in the quality of life, fitness and bone pain of people with multiple myeloma after the exercise program. Analyses of molecular studies on the collected blood samples are underway at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute to explain the mechanisms underpinning the beneficial effects of exercise.
This trial demonstrates that the MyeEx individually supervised exercise program improves the quality of life of people with multiple myeloma.
Project leaders engaged with and drew on the expertise of partners within universities, research institutes, and hospital and health services around Queensland.
1. Nicol JL, Woodrow C, Cunningham BJ, Mollee P, Weber N, Smith MD, Nicol AJ, Gordon LG, Hill MM, Skinner TL (2022) An individualized exercise intervention for people with multiple myeloma—Study protocol of a randomized waitlist-controlled trial. Current Oncology 29:901-923.
2. Nicol JL, Cunningham BJ, Woodrow C, Adlard K, Papinczak Z, Spence RR, Boytar A, Mollee P, Weber N, Nicol AJ, Hill MM, Skinner TL (2023) Safety, feasibility, and acceptability of a multi-site individualized exercise intervention for people with multiple myeloma. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Health Translation Queensland acknowledges the Traditional Owners and their custodianship of the lands on which we live, work, and play. We pay our respects to their Ancestors and their Descendants, who continue cultural and spiritual connections to Country. We recognise their valuable contributions to Australian and global society.