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Exercise for Cancer Patients

“You can lift that much weight?”

That’s the question Debra Carter got at Health Directions, Lexington Medical Center’s fitness and wellness gym, recently.

Her 30-pound presses on a strength training machine would be impressive to anyone. But what was even more impressive – and that no one knew – was that Carter was a cancer patient, still undergoing treatment, too.

The Cayce woman, age 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2011. She underwent a lumpectomy and dozens of radiation treatments. During the end of radiation, she started going to Health Directions for Cancer Exercise Training, a program run with the help of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.

Cancer Survivors 0144That’s where she met Thad Werts, who, with a Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET) certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, is an expert in helping people with cancer exercise correctly. A CET understands cancer patients’ diagnosis, surgeries, treatments, symptoms and side effects.

“With cancer, you can be active,” he said. “I look at what we can do to make everyone’s cancer experience better.”

In March, Werts put Carter on an 8-session, twice-per-week program to increase her strength and endurance, including a mix of cardio and weights.

With his training, he understands how cancer impacts exercise, and what it’s important for patients to do – and not to do. For example, chemotherapy can lower cardiovascular endurance. And, that it’s important to be careful with range of motion for breast cancer patients who’ve had surgery, especially with chest exercises.

“I can help them build back up their muscle so that they have more strength,” he said.

Carter liked it.

“It makes you feel so much better because you have more energy,” she said.

Since beginning the program two years ago, Werts has built up the program to train about ten patients each month, including breast, prostate and colon cancer patients.

The importance of such exercise is well-documented among cancer clinicians, who stress the importance of incorporating wellness activity into regimens for people who are moving into the survivor phase of life.

This exercise has emotional benefits, too.

“There’s a depression factor that I didn’t understand until I went through the training,” Werts said. “Women who have gone through hormone therapy have a tendency to gain more weight, so they feel more self-conscious.”

He says exercise can help them feel happier.

“I love the clinical aspect,” he said. “I knew I never wanted to be a doctor, but that I wanted to help as many people as possible.”

It’s made a difference for Carter. Werts has inspired her to exercise for the long-term.

“He has given me a second chance,” she said.

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation provides important programs and services that help people in our community, including cancer patients. Please consider giving to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation during the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s “Midlands Gives” challenge on May 5. Learn more at MidlandsGives.org.

Heart & Sole Training: Warm Ups, Cool Downs and Stretching

We are one month into training for the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler, set for April 25 in downtown Columbia. This all-women event, with a 5-mile run, and 3- and 5-mile walks, celebrates the power of a healthy lifestyle and raises awareness about heart disease, the #1 killer of women.

Amanda Castles, personal trainer at Health Directions, Lexington Medical Center’s fitness and wellness gym, is your guide to getting ready for race day! In the video below, she talks about the importance of warm ups, cool downs and stretching.

Do you have a question about running or training for a race? Ask us in the comments section below! We’ll get your question to Amanda and she’ll be happy to answer it for you.

To register for the Heart & Sole, visit HeartAndSoleRun.com

Our customized training guide is below. You can click on the image to make it larger and print it.

HS_TrainingPlan_2015.pdf

See you on race day!

Take 5 for Heart Health: Get Moving!

Personal trainers from Health Directions, Lexington Medical Center’s fitness and wellness gym, were guests on WIS-TV with Dawndy Mercer Plank this week to talk about ways to “Get Moving” as part of our “Take 5 for Heart Health” campaign.

Thad Werts talked about how exercise helps your heart and about “Boot Camp” exercises. Health Directions trainers Amanda Castles and Lyn Pernell demonstrated some moves you can do anywhere, including in your own home. You can watch the video below.


Here are a few notes from Thad’s comments:

~The heart is a muscle. Just like all of our other muscles, the heart can become more powerful, stronger and more efficient through exercise.

~When it comes to exercises, the “burpee” is a total body movement that incorporates upper body, lower body and cardiovascular exercise all at the same time. It’s a great exercise when you only have a few minutes.

~Jumping rope is a great exercise because it only requires a simple piece of fitness equipment and gets the heart rate up for a short period of time, resulting in a more efficient cardiovascular system.

Learn more about “Boot Camp” classes at Health Directions by visiting the Health Directions website.