ForeverFit trainers earn ACE Cancer Exercise Specialist certification

Two trainers posing with a patientWhen cancer patients go through chemo, they can develop numbness or painful tingling in their hands and feet. This type of neuropathy can also cause them to lose balance, making it difficult to exercise, which has been shown in multiple studies to benefit cancer patients. Knowing this and other challenges that such patients encounter is crucial in planning their personal training regimen.

Two staff members of ForeverFit —The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s exercise space that offers individualized, no-cost training for cancer patients — recently earned their ACE Cancer Exercise Specialist certification from the Cancer Exercise Training Institute.

Nicole Zurita and Rachael Mouat of HSC’s Department of Personalized Health and Well-Being earned their certifications in December. Both were already certified personal trainers. This new achievement gives them an in-depth understanding of the entire cancer process from diagnoses through treatment and recovery. The duo can better design and prescribe individualized, safe and effective exercise programs for cancer patients and survivors.

“It’s really important for us as trainers to understand people’s limitations,” said Zurita, who supervises the clinic’s operations. “Their goals might be different than someone who doesn’t have a cancer diagnosis, especially given the surgeries and the types of treatments that they’re going through.”

The certification, she continued, “tells us what type of exercises they should do, and, more importantly, what they shouldn’t be doing. That is really eye-opening. We take their vitals, we look at all of that data, their diagnosis and their history, and then we tailor a plan for that person.”

Exercise may help people avoid and survive many types of cancer, according to exercise guidelines released in 2021 that focus on how exercise affects cancer outcomes. Likewise, a review of past research released by the American College of Sports Medicine concluded that regular exercise may reduce our risks of developing some cancers by as much as 69%. That analysis also found that exercise may improve treatment outcomes and prolong life in people who already have cancer.

The ACSM study concluded that there was more than enough evidence to start suggesting that exercise should be a part of standard treatment for most people with cancer. They also found that exercise should be considered a means to substantially drop the risk of developing cancer in the first place.

Exercise also seems to lessen cancer patients’ feelings of anxiety or depression and their sometimes-debilitating fatigue.

“I have worked in the fitness/wellness industry for nearly a decade now, and this is by far the most specialized certification I have obtained,” Mouat said.

“Even since obtaining this certification, I have been peppering in key exercises from what I have learned to help prevent or alleviate lymphedema from lymph node removal, create a fun plan for someone experiencing extreme fatigue from chemotherapy and much more. This certification improves — not only my ability to create programs — but to also have clients that continue to enjoy our program and all that we can offer.”

ForeverFit is located in HSC Physical Health’s new 3,751-square-foot location, 6913 Camp Bowie Blvd. HSC’s School of Health professions opened the facility in July 2022. The program is open to any cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers.

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