Fitness program shows significant gains for cancer survivor participants

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Cancer survivors who participated in a fitness program exhibited improvements in physical activity, fitness and quality of life, according to findings conducted by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers and others. The study was presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The research was led by Jennifer Ligibel, MD, senior physician at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, and Melinda Irwin, MD, Yale Cancer Center. The study was designed to assess the impact of the 12-week LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, included 186 participants and specifically evaluated quality of life, physical activity and fitness. Participants experienced significant increases in physical activity (75 percent exercising a minimum of 150 minutes/week vs. 25 percent for the control group); and improvements in both overall quality of life and fitness performance (according to a six-minute walk test). The participants had been diagnosed with stages I-IV of cancer, of which 50 percent had breast cancer. In addition, at the outset of the program, the majority of the participants had been inactive.

“We were so pleased to be able to show the improvement in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA’s participants after committing to this program of physical activity,” Ligibel said. “We look forward to an opportunity to show longer term and wider effects – hoping to prove that the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program could provide a platform to increase physical activity in thousands more cancer survivors around the country.”

The study was presented at ASCO as part of the Patient and Survivor Care session on June 1, 2015.

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