DALLAS -- The American Cancer Society and the American College of Sports Medicine are devising a special certification for people who work with cancer patients on exercise programs.

Julie Main, president of West Coast Athletic Clubs in California, developed a similar program after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 in 1993. Main was inspired after her doctor mentioned that she seemed to be going through treatment better than other patients.
She told him one thing she was doing was continuing to exercise.

Main teaches other health clubs how to set up programs similar to her twice-a-week, 10-week program. Her free programs are done in collaboration with the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, CA, and focus on strength training.

Joe Moore, president and CEO of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, says more and more clubs are offering exercise programs fine-tuned for people coping with a variety of ailments. Moore also says the number of programs has grown along with the number of studies showing the health benefits of exercise.

Some fitness facilities participating in similar programs include the Dedham Health and Athletic Complex in suburban Boston. Patients are referred to the Dedham Health and Athletic Complex after they’ve been diagnosed with anything from heart disease to arthritis to diabetes.

At the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, participants in the Female Focus program, which is specifically for women with health problems, pay $580 for an evaluation, eight training sessions, two lectures—one on exercise and another on nutrition—and a workout booklet to help them continue their routine.

The YMCA of Greater Seattle and a cancer research center recently partnered to create a new strength and fitness program designed specifically for cancer survivors. The 10-week program, Exercise and Thrive, is available free to adults who have completed cancer treatment, regardless of where they were treated.