Breast cancer gym prevents isolation and rebuilds women’s strength

Gym 3

The breast cancer gym sessions take place on a Tuesday at the RAH.

By Lizzie Healey

People being treated for breast cancer at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) are being helped to build their fitness and prevent isolation thanks to a specialised gym class.

Running in 12 week blocks, the tailor made classes, funded by MacMillan, are designed to rebuild strength and build energy levels in patients who are going through, or just completed, treatment.

Going through breast cancer is extremely difficult and stressful with evidence showing women were less likely to be anxious or depressed if they exercised for small periods of time each week.

The RAH class runs every Tuesday morning in the hospital’s gym. It has a mixture of people undergoing treatment and or have finished their treatment with many saying the class has been an extremely important support during a very difficult time.

gym 2 Ann Boag
Patient Anne Boag

Anne Boag from Paisley said: “I learned about this exercise class through my breast cancer nurse. I already do Tai Chi and being able to also do this class has been great for me over the last nine weeks

“I’ve been through chemotherapy and radiotherapy which has made me very breathless. With the help of class teacher Frances I’ve been able to go at my own pace and build up the exercises.

“I feel my health and wellbeing are improving and mixing with everyone here has been great. I would definitely recommend the class to other people going through breast cancer.

“The class has been really good for my cancer journey and it has given me a lot more confidence. It’s a very friendly group here and Frances is fantastic.

“If anyone is struggling to cope or are at the next stage of their journey I’d recommend they come along.”

Fiona Irvine, breast clinical nurse specialist at the RAH, said: “When patients go through treatment or are just finished they are absolutely shattered.

“They have a lot of side effects and are fatigued, have joint or muscle pain and often have low self-esteem. This can lead to low confidence and they can isolate themselves as they don’t want to talk about breast cancer.

“Patients come to the programme and they’re moving so muscles aren’t aching as much and they’re socialising which helps to give them better confidence.”

Frances Tait, class teacher, said: “The class is designed to help people’s confidence and focus on what they can do rather than not do at the moment. The people taking part in the class get a knowledge of what exercise is safe for them to do and have a lot of fun taking part.

“The programme has been very successful and a high number of people who have taken part go on to participate in other physical activities. It has played an important role in helping people make friendships, reduce isolation and help foster a positive mood.”

Classes run every Tuesday for one hour.

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