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Strength For Life - Fighting Cancer With Exercise

Olivia Braat

The organization hosts a number of eight-week sessions at The Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute at Southampton Hospital. (Photo: www.facebook.com)

It's no secret that exercise is good for you, but the standard for cancer patients has generally been "bed rest is best." Recent studies proving that exercise can decrease fatigue, improve sleep, reduce nausea, build tolerance to chemotherapy and boost mood and self-esteem have now urged patients to "avoid inactivity." Southampton Hospital is taking these studies to heart and has begun encouraging its patients to participate in 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic activity and at least two days of muscle strengthening exercises with the Strength for Life program.

Developed by Debbie Hughes and Jacqui Errico, Strength for Life is a Long Island-based not-for-profit organization that provides free exercise classes for cancer patients and survivors. The organization was founded in memory of Evelyn Knapp, an exercise physiologist and owner of many fitness facilities across the Island who died of cancer in 2005.

"The class becomes more that an exercise session — the camaraderie and support is unimaginable," Errico explained. "Strength for Life might bring them together, but the survivors make the magic happen."

The organization hosts a number of eight-week sessions at The Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute at Southampton Hospital. Weekly classes are one-hour long and incorporate use of resistance bands, stability balls and floor mats. Participates are gifted these supplies, encouraging patients to keep active throughout the week when they are not in classes.

"Strength for Life not only provides professional exercise instruction for cancer patients and survivors, but has also become a source of emotional support of our participants," Hughes added. "To have an environment where you can express yourself and your concerns, while doing something extremely positive at the same time, empowers our survivors and helps them feel a sense of control on their cancer journey."

Since its inception in 2007, Strength for Life has helped over 1,700 cancer patients and survivors.

To learn more about Strength for Life, visit strengthforlifeny.org.

The Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute at Southampton Hospital is located at 240 Meeting House Lane in Southampton. For more information about The Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute, visit www.southamptonhospital.org.

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