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Helping patients keep fit to win over cancer

27 August 2019

Austin Health has opened a Victorian-first gym specifically for outpatients receiving cancer treatment at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre.

Lachlan Terry, Exercise Physiologist at the ONJ Cancer Centre, said research shows that exercise can reduce the number and severity of side effects patients experience due to cancer treatment.

"We know that exercise can help patients undergoing treatment for cancer but we also know that 60-70% of patients receiving treatment don't exercise regularly for a range of reasons," he said.

"The Wellness Gym is for the exclusive use of oncology outpatients at the ONJ Centre and will help more than 300 people a year on their cancer journey.

"People who are more physically active have lower recurrence rates, reduced metastatic rates and a higher chance of winning over cancer, and exercise is just as important for survivors who are getting on with their lives after cancer treatment.

"Patients receive tailored exercise programs to meet their personal needs and goals, which could include resistance training, aerobic exercise, balance, mobility and functional exercises," Lachlan said.

"Exercising in the gym has changed the way I view my cancer and changed the way I view my life." That's how ONJ Centre patient, Chris Ford, describes his visits to the new Wellness Gym.

"Coming to the Gym to exercise is making me feel better and also giving me the chance to build camaraderie with other people who are going through the same experience I am."

"Sometime I don't want to come, but always feel better afterwards!"

"One piece of advice Lachlan gave me was 'Don't make cancer your life, make cancer part of your life' and that's what I'm busy doing," Chris said.

Acting Austin Health CEO, Shelley Castree-Croad, said support from the community has played a major role in the Wellness Gym being set up.

"We are very proud to have this new gym available to our patients," Ms Castree-Croad said.

"Organisations like Dry July have made enormous contribution to Wellness Programs at the ONJ Centre and helped us set up the new gym as well as supporting programs like yoga, massage, art and music therapy.

"The community and a number of other generous donors who are friends of both Olivia and the ONJ Centre, including the team from VIP Fitness, have also helped to raise funds to enable the gym to come to life," she said.

The new Wellness Gym is on Level 5 of the ONJ Cancer Centre and is available exclusively to outpatients undergoing their cancer treatment at the Centre.  

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