The LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program significantly improved physical activity, fitness, and quality of life in survivors of cancer, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Previous reported studies have demonstrated that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer and dying of cancer; however, many cancer survivors do not exercise. Therefore, researchers sought to assess the impact of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program, available at Young Men’s Christian Associations (YMCAs) across the United States, on physical activity, fitness, quality of life, fatigue, body composition, serum biomarkers, and program safety in cancer survivors.

For the study, researchers recruited 186 cancer survivors through Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Of those, 53% had breast cancer and most cancers were diagnosed as AJCC stage I to II cancer.


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Participants were randomly assigned to the 12-week, twice-weekly LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program at YMCAs in Connecticut or Massachusetts or to a control group. At baseline and 12 weeks, researchers evaluated patients using questionnaires, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans, 6-minute walk tests, and fasting blood draws.

The study showed that there were significant differences in physical activity levels, 6-minute walk test results, and quality of life (P =.04) between the 2 arms.

Researchers found that at week 12, 71% of patients assigned to the intervention arm were exercising at least 150 minutes per week compared with 26% of controls (P <.05). In addition, patients participating in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program walked 28.9 meters (95% CI, 0.3-49.0) farther than those in the control arm (P = 004).

The findings ultimately suggest that the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program could improve disease and psychosocial outcomes in thousands of cancer survivors with access to the YMCA network.

Reference

1. Irwin ML, Cartmel B, Harrigan M, et al. Effect of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA exercise program on physical activity, fitness, quality of life, and fatigue in cancer survivors. Cancer. 2016 Nov 28. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30456. [Epub ahead of print]