Last week, more than 60 experts on nutrition, physical activity, and cancer advocacy met on Capitol Hill to discuss the effect that healthy lifestyle practices such as regular exercise and a healthy diet play in preventing and treating various forms of cancer.
The “Nutrition and Physical Activity Interventions for Cancer Prevention, Treatment, and Survivorship” seminar, co-convened by IHRSA, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), provided evidence-based community initiatives to reduce cancer risk and recurrence, increase quality of life, and improve cancer outcomes and overall health.
The health club industry is increasingly involved in the connection between physical activity and cancer survivorship. In her opening remarks, Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy, credited Julie Main with making this important connection. Main was a former IHRSA board member who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993. During her treatment, Main stressed the importance of exercise as a solution to staying healthy. She later started the Cancer Well-fit program to help cancer survivors regain control of their health.
This program inspired many health clubs to start offering similar programming. During a panel highlighting some of these best practice approaches, Radka Willson, IHRSA member and past Julie Main Leader award recipient, spoke about her “Back to Life” cancer wellness program. The six-week program aims to help cancer survivors create their own personalized fitness program, lead a healthy lifestyle, and accelerate recovery.
The success of this program has been astounding, and IHRSA’s charitable arm, the IHRSA Foundation, is working toward continuing to bring evidence-based programs like the “Back to Life” program to IHRSA member clubs across the country.
“IHRSA will continue to build the evidence base and implement best practices and advocacy solutions to help people get active,” said Amy Bantham, IHRSA’s Vice President of Government Relations and Health Promotion. “Collaboration among the nutrition, physical activity and cancer advocate communities is critical, and we look forward to working together to raise awareness and improve health outcomes.”