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Healthy Habits facilitates breast-cancer-focused group

Healthy Habits facilitates breast-cancer-focused support group

Article originally posted by Country SA PHN – bit.ly/3IKav63

Healthy Habits is a group nutrition and exercise program funded by Country SA PHN and provided by Sonder for community members living in Yorke Peninsula, Clare, Port Lincoln, Gawler, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla who either have a chronic disease or are at risk of developing one.

Sonder identified a need for a breast cancer-focused Healthy Habits group program in Clare and worked in consultation with McGrath Foundation Breast Cancer Nurse, Lindi Brokenshire to develop the program which was then coordinated by Exercise Physiologist, Lisa Parkinson.

The group commenced with Lisa providing a free education session to the local Breast Cancer Support Group on the benefits of exercise during and following breast cancer treatment, along with a short exercise session that could be replicated at home by the participants.

Following this introductory session, twelve women registered for the breast cancer-focused Healthy Habits program, all at different stages of their breast cancer journey. The participants attended an assessment and a weekly exercise group, supervised by Lisa, where they were provided with their own program to work towards their own goals, within their own capabilities.

At the end of the group program, every participant improved at least one fitness measure, with many reporting a reduction of waist and hip measurements, and improvements in arm and leg strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Group of woman participating in Healthy Habits - Breast Cancer Group

In addition to the physical benefits, the participants reported benefits to their mental health and well-being through the social and supportive group atmosphere.

These results and feedback highlight how important programmed exercise is to women undergoing breast cancer treatment. This aligns with the key recommendation of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia that exercise is embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and that all members of the multidisciplinary cancer team promote physical activity and include referral to an Exercise Physiologist.

One of the participants Amanda Schultz, when entering the program had high blood pressure, was on anti-depressants, and had been diagnosed with severe fatty liver and a gall bladder issue. After radiotherapy Amanda was finding day-to-day activity very tiring and had a sedentary lifestyle with no energy or motivation to exercise.

Amanda said the group helped her to alter her diet to be healthier. It also helped Amanda to recognise that she needed more direction in her life and that list-making was helpful to give her direction and helped her not slip back into bad habits.

Amanda also started exercising more – walking on her own and doing exercises at home.

Amanda’s assessment at the end of the program showed her blood pressure had reduced and her cardio-vascular participation had increased. Amanda had also lost some weight and a few centimetres from her waist and hips.

“Overall I feel really great and certainly notice if I haven’t been active or had my usual healthy diet,” said Amanda.

“I’m also pleased to say that during this process I have successfully weaned off my anti-depressants, under doctor supervision and haven’t looked back.”

Amanda also said she very much enjoyed the comradery and felt she had more energy and was happier overall.

“I loved that all the people involved were so supportive, informative and friendly,” said Amanda.

“It made the whole process inviting and easy to take part in and be inspired by.

The results have prompted me to continue exercising on my own.”

Amanda recommends the program to family and friends with much enthusiasm.

“Give it a go and I mean really give it a go,” said Amanda.

“Listen to the advice given, and make changes, even if small.”

“Overall, they all start to make a marked difference to more than just one aspect of life and before you know it you are feeling amazing and have more energy to use in so many different aspects of your life.”

More information

To learn more about Healthy Habits, visit sonder.net.au/healthy-habits

To chat with our friendly team, call (08) 8209 0700 or email healthyhabits@sonder.net.au.