Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Yale Cancer Center researchers find improvements in fitness and quality of life for survivors completing 12-week physical fitness program
Cancer survivors who participated in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program exhibited improvements in physical activity, fitness and quality of life, according to research conducted by Drs. Melinda Irwin of Yale Cancer Center and Jennifer Ligibel, MD, senior physician in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The findings will be presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The study, 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,” said Drs. Irwin and Ligibel. “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 will be presented at ASCO as part of the Patient and Survivor Care session on June 1. The clinical trial information on the study is available at NCTO2112149.
“LIVESTRONG at the YMCA was created when patients told us that they needed a safe, supportive space to get into a fitness routine following treatment,” said Chandini Portteus, LIVESTRONG President and CEO. “Drs. Irwin and Ligibel’s research reinforces our belief that embarking on this program of semiweekly physical activity is keenly important to help cancer survivors be a part of an active and vital community. Along with our partners at the YMCA, we hope that these results will allow more survivors to take advantage of the program and regain their physical fitness.”
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week exercise program, offered at little to no cost, to help survivors improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships and improve their quality of life. The program launched in 2007 as a partnership between the LIVESTRONG Foundation and YMCA of the USA and is available at more than 400 locations, having served more than 29,000 survivors to date.
“With a presence in 10,000 communities across the country, the Y is one of the few organizations with the ability to reach cancer survivors wherever they live,” said Matt Longjohn, National Health Officer, YMCA of the USA. “LIVESTRONG at the YMCA has helped thousands of people reclaim their health in a safe and supportive environment and this study further proves the program works.”