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When a member finds out they have cancer, I suspect that one of the last things on their mind after receiving their diagnosis, is how they’re going to keep up their fitness regiment. However, according to the American Cancer Society, working out while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation may be beneficial to a cancer patient’s overall health.
An article on the American Cancer Society’s website states: “Most cancer patients who receive chemotherapy and radiation experience fatigue — a severe tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest. This often leads to a lack of physical activity, which in turn causes muscle weakness and reduced range of motion. Beginning an exercise program can break this cycle, reducing fatigue and helping patients carry out normal daily activities.”
Richard Louis, a cancer exercise specialist at Crunch Fitness, whose mother is a cancer survivor, learned about the benefits of exercise in cancer patients when he became certified to train patients undergoing chemotherapy at the Cancer Exercise Training Institute in West Linn, Ore. At the Cancer Training Institute, Louis learned everything he’d need to know about training cancer patients and clients in remission. “The training institute goes through every type of cancer and the treatments each patient receives — their surgeries, medications, treatments, everything,” explained Louis. “We learn what to look for, such as swelling, low energy levels and more.”
During the certification process, Louis learned about the benefits of exercise in cancer patients highlighted by the American Cancer Society — such as reduction of fatigue. He also learned about the mental benefits. “For cancer patients in particular, their whole mental attitude changes when they exercise,” said Louis. “Exercise will really help — they don’t feel so helpless. You help them feel strong and think, ‘I can still move, I can still exercise.’”
Becoming certified as a cancer exercise specialist allowed Louis to help his clients at Crunch Fitness get up and move again, and get back on track to becoming healthy individuals. According to Louis, the job has been very rewarding.
The American Cancer Society reported that around 12 million people in the U.S. had some form of cancer. As a result, chances are that one, or more, of your members will be diagnosed with cancer this year, if they haven’t been already. Because of the prevalence of cancer, Louis suggested that all clubs have a cancer exercise specialist. “If you have a specialist for pregnant women or rehab, why wouldn’t you have one for cancer patients?” he asked.
If having a cancer research specialist at your facility doesn’t seem plausible, the American Cancer Society provided a list of tips on exercise for cancer patients that you can share with any of your members struggling with the disease, or those trying to recover. Tips such as, “Do some activity every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes,” and, “Exercise moderately. This is not the time to push yourself too hard. Rest when you need to.”
For the full list, visit http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/exercise-can-help-cancer-patients-quality-of-life. If you would like to ask Louis questions about training members with cancer, e-mail him at _106_83rd_PersonalTrainer@crunch.com.
By Rachel Zabonick