Reduce Cancer Risk-Exercise
Reduce Cancer Risk with Exercise
Visiting Sloth City? Exercise your options
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012, 6:19 AM
Sue Schroder | The Grand Rapids Press By Sue Schroder | The Grand Rapids Press
My inner sloth has been having its way with me.
My recent failure to exercise is a combination of my own inertia coupled with bronchitis followed by the cold from hell. My maintenance therapy gets only minuscule blame.
Those in active chemo may face limited exercise options as I did when the chemical warfare did heavy collateral damage to my energy and strength, drastically lowered my white blood count and left me susceptible to infection.
Once outside the treatment-dictated shalt-nots of human contact, is exercise really worth the effort we'd have to put into it?
If you care about reducing the risk and/or recurrence of some cancers and actually increasing the energy levels chemo knocks out of us, the answer is a resounding yes.
Reduce your risk
The National Cancer Institute reports "strong evidence" that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of colon and breast cancers. It also cites several studies reporting links between physical activity and reduced risk of endometrial, lung and prostate cancers.
So how do those of us with a near-mortal fear of Spandex go about rebuilding our bodies and regaining our strength?
Consider exercise programs designed specifically for cancer survivors.
One of the longest-running is Cancer Well-fit. The program has been offered for more than 10 years at the Michigan Athletic Club (the MAC) and the East Hills Athletic Club through the Lacks Cancer Center of Saint Mary's Health Care.
"We don't have much control over cancer, and people who've gone through our program tell us they feel they gain some control in their lives. We know the classes actually reduce fatigue and increase energy levels," said Kristi Tuck, fitness director of the MAC and East Hills, and the woman in charge of the Cancer Well-fit program.
Cancer Well-fit is a 14-week program that includes 10 weeks of sessions conducted by the only nationally recognized certified cancer exercise trainers in Michigan, according to the Lacks Cancer Center website. It also includes an additional four weeks of open membership.
Classes for 8-10 people are focused on strength training through weight training, Tuck said. Balance and stability, flexibility and core strength training are part of the program.
Open to patients who have recently been or are currently being treated for cancer and are referred by their doctors, classes are geared to people dealing with the effects of treatment, whatever the cancer.
Cost: $50 for patients of The Lacks Cancer Center (support partner included) or $150 for participants who are not patients at the Lacks Cancer Center (support partner included.)
For more information, visit lackscancercenter.org; to register, call the Lacks Cancer at Saint Mary's, 685-5222.
Gilda's Club Grand Rapids and Gilda's Club Lowell both offer fitness and wellness classes free to Gilda's members and open to supporting family and friends.
"In most cases, the type and level of exercise for someone on a cancer journey will be dependent on their current health status and/or treatment plan," said Wendy Wigger, vice president of community relations and program development.
Here is a small sample of Gilda's monthly classes:
(Visit gildasclubgr.org for information on all classes and membership information.)
Fitness & Movement
Taught by a certified physical therapist, this variety fitness class offers a combined exercise of core strength, Tai Chi, meditation and gentle strength training.
Movement & Lymphedema
This program combines dance with gentle exercise and lymphedema awareness, and is designed to increase range of motion and to decrease lymphedema.
A brochure from the University of Colorado Cancer Center also can help with planning and monitoring post-cancer exercise.
Cancer survivors can download the brochure.
Editor's note: Sue Schroder, former features editor for The Grand Rapids Press, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in late 2009. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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