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The Shape of Health to Come

While millions of Americans place fitness as one of their top New Year's resolutions to improve shape, muscle tone and overall appearance, cancer survivors have another priority - life. //

Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a customized fitness program to help survivors of endometrial cancer - or cancer of the uterus - shed pounds and keep cancer at bay. Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., principal investigator of the five-year "Steps to Health" study and associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Science, aims to determine how well participants adhere to a personalized fitness plan, motivation both for beginning and sustaining regular workouts and the role of a support system in encouraging determination.

All endometrial cancer survivors who are six months post treatment - from M. D. Anderson or elsewhere - are eligible to participate in the Steps to Health study, funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Following an initial 30-minute orientation, including an electrocardiogram, researchers will assess participants at baseline and again every two months using a series of health and quality-of-life questionnaires, as well as fitness tests on an exercise bike. Depending on a participant's current physical ability, exercise physiologists and fitness specialists then will create a customized plan for each survivor.

According to Basen-Engquist, cancer survivors' confidence following a stressful course of treatment often can be diminished.

"I'm most interested in learning which factors encourage survivors to persist with exercise and take charge of their cancer prevention for the future," said Basen-Engquist. "As the risk for endometrial cancer is two-to four-fold greater in obese women than the general population, we hope that providing a personalized exercise plan for this population will be an incentive to achieve improved physical and psychological well-being.'"/>




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