Prescription for exercise

Cancer survivor Charles Ackerman of Fruita works out on a stationary bicycle at the Fruita Community Center, while chatting with Lindsay Maurer, the center’s fitness and Cancer Fit coordinator.

Lindsay Maurer, left, guides Charles Ackerman through a weight-lifting exercise at the Fruita Community Center. The Cancer Fit program meets at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9:30 a.m on Thursdays.



According to Cancer Fit, exercise provides the following benefits for cancer survivors:

■ Improves cardiovascular endurance

■ Improves muscular strength

■ Reduces fatigue

■ Improves ability to perform day-to-day duties

■ Enhances mood and reduces anxiety

■ Helps recondition lymph systems compromised by surgery or radiation

■ Reduces pain and nausea

■ Refocuses energy from illness to wellness

Chuck Ackerman stays fit since surgery took his prostrate cancer away four years ago.

The 72-year-old Fruita resident is free of cancer and working out to keep his mind and body healthy. Twice each week, the focus on fitness takes him to the Fruita Community Center, 324 N. Coulson St.

That’s where Lindsay Maurer, a credentialed instructor, helps cancer survivors create an individualized exercise regimen.

The patient-centered approach is the centerpiece of a new, innovative program at the Fruita center. Any person with any type of cancer at any stage may take part.

“I think there’s a common misconception that people who are actively receiving cancer treatments cannot exercise, but there’s no reason why someone receiving treatment can’t exercise,” Maurer said.

Known as Cancer Fit, the Fruita program is modeled after one established by the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association, she said. It began in January.

“A big part of this program is that it has dual-action pieces,” Maurer said. “It’s individualized, but in a group fitness setting.”

Exercise psychologists help design each individual program, she said.

“We create an exercise prescription. We meet with them individually, show them around, show them their program, and then they join group setting.”

Each program is tailor-made to match the patient’s level of fitness and health needs, Maurer said.

“We help them refocus their energy from illness into wellness and give them a feeling of control over their bodies the cancer has (threatened),” she said. “There is so much lost with a cancer diagnosis. It’s nice to be able to take control back and say, ‘I’m going to make this happen to my body. I’m going to make it stronger.’ “

Cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and vital signs like heart rate and 
respiration are all figured into the individualized program, she said.

“We start up with a warm-up, then I like to ride the stationary bike,” Ackerman said. “I do some weight-lifting with the 8-pound balls for my upper body.”

Beyond the benefits for the body, the group setting provides benefits for the mind.

“We have the five-year-out people. We have people who are currently receiving treatment,” she said. “We have people who are going to be helpful by helping somebody else through their diagnosis. By meeting others who feel the same as they do, they realize they are not on an island. They are not alone.”

Four years after surgery removed his prostate cancer, Ackerman is the old pro with big shoulders. He attends to stay fit and is ready to assist those new to the diagnosis. Cancer Fit augments his against-the-current walks up the Lazy River feature at the Fruita center’s pool.

Ackerman said he is realistic about the future, not fatalistic, and stays fit so he can enjoy every moment.

“If you feel good about yourself and your body, you’re going to actually feel better about your life,” he said.

He recommended Cancer Fit for people who lack discipline and need that extra nudge that comes from paying for a three-month class and committing to a program.

“It’s a real good deal,” he said. “Lindsay knows what she is doing.”

The Cancer Fitness Institute, formerly known as Summit Cancer Solutions, is an organization that provided exercise programs directly to cancer survivors for more than 12 years and helped more than 1,400 cancer survivors, according to the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association website.

Starting in 2011, the institute switched focus from treatment to training, launching a small army of cancer-trained exercise professionals like Maurer to assist with programs across Colorado and Minnesota.

Cancer Fit is dedicated to providing survivors with affordable and empowering exercise programs in a healthy, positive, non-intimidating environment, Maurer said.

For information, call 858-0360.


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