Health and kinesiology teams with YWCA to offer exercise program for cancer survivors

May 7, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new exercise program for cancer survivors will be offered this summer thanks to collaboration between the Purdue University Department of Health and Kinesiology and the Lafayette YWCA.

"Exercise was once not emphasized for cancer survivors, but now research shows that physical fitness, especially in group settings, helps physical, mental and social well-being," says Meghan McDonough, an associate professor of health and kinesiology who studies exercise and social relationships of cancer survivors. "However, there are often few, if any, community resources to help people once they are finished with treatments."

The Cancer Wellness Program, which is for adults ages 18 and older who have had any form of cancer, is June 3 through Aug. 9 at the YWCA, 605 N. 6th St., Lafayette. The morning session meets 8:30-10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the evening session is 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The cost is $50, and scholarships are available. For more information or to register, call 765-742-0075.

McDonough is working with Tarra Hodge, an assistant clinical professor of health and kinesiology; Nicole Berryman, a senior majoring in applied exercise and health; Heidi Kauffman, the YWCA coordinator of the Women's Cancer Program; and Janae Kraud, the YWCA youth/adult coordinator; to design the program. The sessions will be led by Hodge and Berryman. The programs will be tailored to individual needs, and activities include strength training, stretching, yoga, Pilates and cardiovascular fitness.

"Cancer patients have been through a lot of emotional and physical stress, so jumping into a regular exercise class may not be for everyone," says Hodge, who oversees the applied exercise and health major at Purdue. "The goal is to help people improve quality of life in a setting that is specific to these individuals' needs. These sessions will focus on decreasing fatigue and increasing fitness levels, all in a supportive social environment."

The goal of the YWCA Women's Cancer Program is to eliminate inequities in health care by removing barriers to access and promoting effective community-based outreach, education and referrals to appropriate clinical services. The program provides screenings for breast and cervical cancers at no charge for uninsured and under-insured women. 

"Even though this is organized through the YWCA and the Women's Cancer Program, the program is open to men and women and all forms of cancer," Kauffman says. "The goal is to provide a community resource to help a special group of people whose needs may not be met in other health and wellness settings." 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Sources: Meghan McDonough, 765-496-9483,

Tarra Hodge, 765-494-3159,

Heidi Kauffman, 765-742-4375, 

Related website: 
College of Health and Human Sciences 

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