Sharon Spalding was training for a half marathon in 2008 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she asked her doctors if she could continue running, they told her they didn’t know how it might affect her.
The science of exercise physiology has come a long way since then, and Spalding, who is a three-time cancer survivor and exercise physiologist at Augusta Health, helps patients at all stages of cancer use exercise to improve their quality of life and recovery. Spalding has been leading the RxEx Cancer program for seven years and says studies have shown that exercise is critical both in helping the body regain its strength after cancer treatment and in preventing recurrence of disease.
“Especially for people with breast or prostate cancer, weight-bearing exercise is very important to maintain bone mass,” Spalding says. “I try to encourage patients to walk on treadmills or outside to get bone-building in. And we know, especially with breast cancer, that being physically fit can reduce recurrence.”
The RxEx Cancer program meets twice a week for eight weeks and involves a combination of movements tailored to help patients achieve their goals. Some patients may have an interest in losing weight, and Spalding can help connect them with Augusta dietitian Mary Beth Landes. Others want to regain the ability to do daily activities. “I’ve had people who want to be able to walk their dog or get things out of the cabinet,” Spalding says.
All Augusta cancer patients are eligible to participate in the RxEx Cancer program for free. A referral from a provider is required.
Ask your primary care physician or oncologist for a referral to the RxEx Cancer program. Learn more at augustahealth.com/fitness/medical-programming.