Monday, September 29, 2008

Health Clubs Gear Programs for Those With Ailments

“More and more clubs are offering exercise programs fine-tuned for people coping with a variety of ailments, said Joe Moore, head of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. He said the number of programs has grown along with the number of studies showing the health benefits of exercise. Medical and fitness experts say that exercise not only elevates the mood and energy levels, but helps control weight — a contributing factor for many diseases. For breast cancer patients, ‘being overweight or gaining weight post diagnosis is a huge risk factor’ for recurrence, said Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society. Her group and the American College of Sports Medicine are devising a special certification for people who work with cancer patients on exercise programs. Julie Main developed such a program after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 in 1993. She was inspired after her doctor mentioned that she seemed to be going through treatment better than other patients. She told him one thing she was doing was continuing to exercise. ‘He said, 'Most of my other patients don't do that.' I said, 'Well, maybe they should,’ Main said. Now president of West Coast Athletic Clubs with five gyms in California, Main teaches other health clubs how to set up programs similar to her twice-a-week, 10-week program. Her free programs are done in collaboration with the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara and focus on strength-training. ‘With cancer, people feel too tired to exercise, but if they exercise the fatigue is less,’ said Christine Brown, the Cancer Center's wellness manager. Dr. John Pippen, a cancer specialist at Baylor University Medical Center, said that he tells his breast cancer patients to try to walk three to five hours a week. ‘To me, it's killing several birds with one stone — preventing osteoporosis, reducing cancer risk, perhaps most important of all, reducing cardiovascular risk,’ Pippen said.”

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