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The MUHC goes to the gym

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Published: 1 Oct 2009

MUHC and CURVES partnership aims to improve breast cancer survival

MUHC and CURVES partnership aims to improve breast cancer survival

Research demonstrates a clear link between physical activity and increased cancer survival rates, but just getting to the gym presents a challenge for many people. For women battling breast cancer, the side effects of their treatments are just one of many barriers to being physically active. The Cedars Breast Clinic of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is partnering up with Curves, the world’s leader in women’s fitness, to tackle this problem head on. From September, every inactive woman diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at the MUHC will be offered a free membership to Curves.

“Many women being treated for breast cancer are not ready to get back into physical activity or they haven’t done it before,” explains Dr. Sarkis Meterissian, Director of the Cedars Breast Centre of the MUHC. “They are often dealing with changes in body image, depression and are struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis. On top of that, they have the physical effects of chemotherapy.

Breast cancer survivors who receive a free membership to Curves won’t simply be left to their own devices. Dr. Catherine Sabiston, Assistant Professor in Exercise Psychology at McGill University, will follow their progress over the course of four years. Her team will measure changes in the women’s physical health, including aerobic fitness, strength, weight, and body composition, as well as their psychosocial health, including their stress levels, their social support systems and their quality of life.

Curves’ staff and members will do what they do best - encouraging, nurturing and supporting these women as they attempt to regain their health and wellbeing. “There’s something special that goes on inside a Curves,” said Curves founder Diane Heavin. “The owners, staff and members have created a unique support system that we call the Curves Community, and it has the ability to uplift and strengthen women.”

Dr. Sabiston anticipates that the physical activity enjoyed by these women will offset many of the side effects experienced as a result of cancer treatments, giving them more energy, stronger muscles, and allowing them to sleep better. She also expects psychosocial gains – including improved emotional health and the development of new social relationships. “The ultimate goal of our research is to identify feasible and safe exercise mechanisms that are already available to these women in their communities.”

Over the years, Curves has made great efforts in the fight against cancer. “Curves is proud to be an integral component of the treatment program for the patients and survivors of the Cedars Breast Clinic,” says Heavin. “We commend Dr. Meterissian and his staff for taking such a crucial step in ensuring the health and wellbeing of his patients, and for furthering important research on the link between exercise and disease prevention.”

This partnership was made possible by funds raised at this year’s fourth annual Jump for Hope Country Gala fundraiser, organized in partnership with the Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation, to benefit the MUHC Cedars Breast Clinic.

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital. The goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field and to contribute to the development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca

Curves works to help women lose weight, gain muscle strength and aerobic capacity, and raise metabolism with its groundbreaking, scientifically proven method that ends the need for perpetual dieting. Curves works every major muscle group with a complete 30-minute workout that combines strength training and sustained cardiovascular activity through safe and effective hydraulic resistance. Founders Gary and Diane Heavin are considered the innovators of the express fitness phenomenon that has made exercise available to over 4 million women. With nearly 10,000 locations in more than 70 countries, Curves is the world's largest fitness franchise. For more information, please visit: www.curves.com.

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For more information please contact:

Rana Alrabi
Information Officer
MUHC Public Relations and Communications
(514) 843-1560
rana [dot] alrabi [at] muhc [dot] mcgill [dot] ca

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