Cancer Fit Exercise Program Benefits Cancer Survivors and Patients

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By Sandy Dickman; Exercise physiologist and head of the Cancer Fit Program at South Suburban’s Goodson Recreation Center.
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Most of us know of someone who has been affected by cancer, or you yourself have been affected by cancer.  There are approximately 12 million cancer survivors in the United States with nearly 25,000 Coloradans currently diagnosed each year.  The American Cancer Society’s estimated number of cancers for 2012 is an estimated 1.8 million.  A third of the 600,000 cancer deaths that occurred in 2012 were related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutritional habits.

Cancer Fit is a six month exercise program offered to all adult cancer survivors.  Cancer Fit is a nonprofit community-based program dedicated to providing cancer survivors with an affordable and empowering exercise program in a healthy, positive, and non-intimidating environment.

The six month Cancer Fit program includes:

  • Pre and post fitness assessments
  • Individualized exercise regimen based on individuals fitness levels, personal goals, surgeries, and side effects from cancer treatment
  • Participation in supervised classes  that meet two times per week
  • Two, one-on-one personal training sessions
  • Unlimited use of the recreation center while registered for the program

Research shows that the healthier the individual, the better they are able to withstand medical treatment for cancer and reduce the risk of disease.  Numerous sources show that physical activity during treatment and post treatment phases are now recommended for cancer survivors to offset the myriad of side effects associated with chemo and radiation therapies and the impact they have on the patient’s quality of life.

Exercise offsets the physiological and psychological side effects for cancer patients including fatigue, muscular atrophy, weight changes, lower aerobic capacity, decreased strength, flexibility, nausea, depression, pain, neuropathy and lymph edema.   

Those who have been isolated due to treatment often regain their strength and enthusiasm for life by attending social activities outside of their home.  The Cancer Fit program gives participants something to look forward to and helps reduce depression.  Cancer Fit also encourages the individual to see himself or herself as a survivor rather than a cancer patient or cancer statistic.   

The program also gives survivors a sense of “control” over their well-being, providing them with tools and motivation to continue wellness activities after the program’s completion.

The overall objective is to encourage survivors to view exercise as “medicine.”  This, along with stress management techniques is a means to improving their well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, & spiritually) and improving their ability to recover from negative effects that can come along with cancer diagnosis and treatment.  The general consensus is that physical activity is beneficial from both a physical and mental well-being perspective!

The benefits of exercise for cancer survivors include:

  • Decreases fatigue & nausea
  • Strengthens ability to tolerate treatment
  • Improves strength and endurance for daily living
  • Empowers people to feel more in control
  • Enhances sleep quality
  • Boosts sense of well-being
  • Reduces pain related to scar tissue & injury
  • Improves mood & reduces depression/anxiety
  • Helps control weight gain or loss
  • Builds bone density which is lost during treatment
  • Identifies & addresses muscular imbalances

Physical activity has also been suggested to increase longevity after cancer treatment and to decrease the chance of reoccurrence!

To find out more about the Cancer Fit Program or Personal Training Packages offered at Goodson Recreation Center, call 303-483-7089, ext. 2.  To register for Cancer Fit, click here Cancer Fit Registration.  To view all classes and programs offered by South Suburban, visit www.sspr.org.

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