Cancer is a life-changing disease that takes a tremendous physical and emotional toll on those affected. Despite studies that show exercise can lessen fatigue and pain, reduce side effects of treatment and boost self-esteem, many people stop exercising when diagnosed with cancer. Even after treatment is over, many can’t find the energy or motivation for exercise, or they simply have no idea where to turn for help.
Responding to the need for an exercise and wellness program for cancer patients and survivors, the YMCA of the USA and LIVESTRONG® joined together to create LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. This free, 12-week, small group, physical activity and well-being program is designed to help adult cancer survivors achieve their holistic health goals. The research-based program offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person.
Small groups of four to ten participants gather twice weekly to achieve their goals such as building muscle mass and strength, increasing flexibility and endurance, and improving confidence and self-esteem. Sessions last about 75 minutes and include group exercise, mind/body connection and discussion topics such as nutrition. The program is tailored to the specific needs and fitness level of each individual cancer survivor.
The Y instructors are nationally certified and trained to help meet the needs of cancer survivors and provide ways to make the group environment more supportive. “The emotional and physical improvements we see over the 12-week span are unbelievable,” said Susan Christel, a certified LIVESTRONG instructor at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA. “The best part is watching those who were depressed come out of their shell and be happy again. The change in self-confidence is inspiring.”
“This program is truly a godsend to cancer survivors,” said a woman who graduated from the program. “Before my diagnosis of breast cancer, I led an active life and played tennis twice a week. My surgery, chemo and radiation therapy left me fatigued. I was exhausted and out of breath from walking half a block. My doctor suggested I try the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, and after only a few weeks I felt physically and emotionally stronger, could walk more than half a block and had more energy.”
The program is offered at all five YMCA of the Fox Cities locations and is free to everyone — Y members and the general public. Advanced registration is required and class size is limited. While participating in the program, survivors and their caregiver receive all the benefits of a Y membership.
In addition to the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, the Y offers programs such as yoga, water exercises and Pilates, as well as educational opportunities based on participant need or interest.
If you are interested in learning more about the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program or other programs, please contact any of the following YMCA of the Fox Cities locations:
Apple Creek YMCA
2851 E. Apple Creek Rd., Appleton
218 E. Lawrence St., Appleton
Fox West YMCA
W6931 School Rd., Greenville
Heart of the Valley YMCA
225 W. Kennedy Ave., Kimberly
110 W. North Water St., Neenah