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When: 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday
Where: Goodson Recreation Center, 6315 S. University Blvd., Centennial
Who: People with cancer ages 18 and up
How: To register, go to www.ssprd.org/Catalog.aspx and click on “fitness.” The Living Well with Cancer class is in the “Group Training” section.
The American Cancer Society recommends varying levels of exercise for those with cancer, whether they are undergoing treatment, are recovering from treatment or are living disease-free.
Here are some of the organization's recommendations, more of which can be found at www.cancer.org:
If you exercised before treatment, you might need to exercise less than usual or at a lower intensity during treatment. The goal is to stay as active and fit as possible. People who were very sedentary (inactive) before cancer treatment may need to start with short, low-intensity activity, such as short slow walks.
Many side effects get better within a few weeks after cancer treatment ends, but some can last much longer or even emerge later. Most people are able to slowly increase exercise time and intensity. What may be a low- or moderate-intensity activity for a healthy person may seem like a high-intensity activity for some cancer survivors.
Disease-free or with stable disease
During this phase, physical activity is important to your overall health and quality of life. It may even help some people live longer. There’s some evidence that getting to and staying at a healthy weight, eating right, and being physically active may help reduce the risk of a second cancer as well as other serious chronic diseases.
Sometimes, just one chair stand without assistance is the greatest victory, Sandy Dickman said.Dickman, a certified cancer exercise specialist and personal trainer for South Suburban Parks and Recreation, leads a group fitness class designed specifically for people with cancer.Living Well with Cancer is a 75-minute class that adult cancer patients can attend twice a week. It has been part of the Goodson Recreation Center in Centennial for 13 years. Cancer patients from all over the south metro area attend the class.“Exercise is medicine,” Dickman said.New participants go through a one-on-one assessment with Dickman. The assessment covers agility, strength, cardiovascular and overall physical ability. It is used to create a personalized exercise program for the participant’s differing goals and needs.“Everyone is different,” Dickman said. “It is based on what kind of cancer they have. Some are in treatment, others are out of treatment.”Cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and core fitness are the focuses of the classes, which are $5 per session.The class registration is renewed monthly. Dickman recommends committing at least six months to the program to see signs of improvement. There are approximately 12 people in the program each month.Anyone who currently has or once had cancer can join the class. The goal, Dickman said, is to work with people going through treatment. She said some people cannot take the class because of the physical strain that treatments can have.The reason exercise is so good for cancer patients, Dickman said, is that it stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps filter out impurities in the body.Dickman said the class is not for mourning or feeling down about having cancer.“We call it a support group on the move, but it’s not depressing,” Dickman said. “If you have ever been to a support group, you know it is depressing. Everyone goes in and tells their sad story, and it is a sad story. But if you want to get better, you need something more positive than that.”Some people have participated in the program for years. Dickman said it becomes part of their lives.“I have been involved with this group of cancer survivors and (Dickman) for nearly six years,” said Mary, a class participant, who did not give her last name. “I was able to think I could beat this as I came to realize I was not alone; I am a survivor. We maintain a positive and upbeat attitude due to (Dickman’s) guidance as she keeps us moving. I always leave class glad that I attended that day.”
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