A new prostate cancer program inspired by University of Calgary research is helping men regain their strength and flexibility by sneaking yoga in with resistance training. The Strength and Stretch program is offered at the Rockyview General Hospital’s Prostate Cancer Centre.
Strength and Stretch is partly based on a recent paper entitled “Examining a Therapeutic Yoga Program for Prostate Cancer Survivors” published in the June 12 edition of Integrative Cancer Therapies by University of Calgary Kinesiology researcher, Nicole Culos-Reed, PhD, and her former MSc student, Ashley Ross-Zahavich.
The yoga study is part of ongoing research by Culos-Reed’s lab showing that strength and flexibility training is crucial for men recovering from prostate cancer. Following prostate surgery, men report fatigue and often lose lean muscle mass. For those with advanced prostate cancer who undergo androgen deprivation therapy, the benefits of exercise and resistance training, in particular, are well documented.
“Having a class where men recovering from prostate cancer can maintain their lean muscle mass is really key in fighting fatigue,” explains Culos-Reed. “From a physiological point of view, when you have muscle wasting you want to sit and you don’t want to do things that cause more fatigue. It creates a downward spiral where people are tired and therefore they don’t want to move and then they lose lean muscle mass.”
The prostate cancer Strength and Stretch class helps participants break out of this spiral. They use light weights, thera-bands and balance discs, the exercise is adaptable and easy to do at home. The program builds confidence and helps them feel better about themselves. “It’s all about keeping them moving and keeping them strong,” says Culos-Reed. To make the yoga portion of the class more palatable, it was re-branded as stretching. Culos-Reed says, “when I was at the centre, one of the participants said, ‘It’s not really yoga guys – it’s not stand on your head ‘crazy yoga,’ it’s really just good stretching!”
The class itself is held at the Calgary Prostate Centre (CPC), located on the top of the Rockyview General Hospital parkade. There is a sense of camaraderie and fun in the class, which participant John White says is nearly as important as the class itself. “We’ve got eight guys here, all going through the same stuff – and we’ve all got the same problems. It’s the psychology of being able to talk to people and say, ‘How are you doing with your peeing?’ This is reality. To actually talk to guys who are in the same boat and may have come up with some ideas or experiences – that’s absolutely invaluable. “
The Strength and Stretch class is currently only available at the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre, but Culos-Reed is eager to involve the community and spread the program across Calgary. The City of Calgary’s Parks and Recreation will be partnering with her lab to train their fitness professionals, which will allow the program to spread to other locations.
With the support of Prostate Cancer Canada, Culos-Reed and Ashley Ross-Zahavich are working on disseminating the program nationally, providing more resources for prostate cancer survivors.
Prostate cancer survivors interested in the Strength and Stretch program can learn more at: www.kin.ucalgary.ca/healthandwellnesslab.
WHAT: Media availability regarding new prostate cancer exercise program. WHEN: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Prostate Cancer Centre, 6th Floor above parkade at the Rockyview General Hospital, (7007 14 Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2V 1P9)
WHO: Louise Thompson, Patient Liaison with the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre, Lisa Daroux-Cole, Strength and Stretch program coordinator, John White program participant and Marty Kohn program participant.
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Faculty of Kinesiology
University of Calgary