Dr. Martha Eddy Reflects on Exercise Study at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Lee Jones Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Lee Jones and his team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York are studying whether an exercise regimen can inhibit the spread of cancer and help prevent its recurrence. From left, Dr. Jones, Marsha Patel, John Sasso and Kristen Aufiero. Photo: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Judging from a recent Wall Street Journal article by Lucette Lagnado, entitled, “Sloan Kettering’s Quest to Prove Exercise Can Inhibit Cancer: Trying ‘exercise oncology’ to stop or delay the spread of a malignant tumor; a trial for women with stage 4 breast cancer,” it is clear that exercise is being taken more seriously as a way of preventing, recovering from and treating cancer. According to the article, “The new research at Sloan Kettering includes randomized, controlled studies—considered the gold standard for scientific inquiry—seeking to prove that exercise can alter the biology of a tumor, thereby inhibiting or slowing its growth, says Dr. Lee Jones, who is leading the Sloan Kettering effort.”

Moving For Life is thrilled by MSKCC interest in this research as it will undoubtedly build upon the growing body of scientific knowledge to and from which we have been so privileged to contribute and learn since our inception. In the following blog entry, Moving For Life’s, Dr. Martha Eddy sheds light on how Dr. Lee Jones’ research dovetails with our own work and findings, and identifies the gaps that still exist in our knowledge.


I salute Dr. Lee Jones of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in his excellence of research design and his pursuit of a greater understanding of how exercise affects people going through treatment. When we began Moving For Life in 1999 (formerly called Moving On Aerobics in order to emphasize the importance of aerobic- and cardio-stimulating activity – such as fast walking, non-impact aerobics, dance, biking and swimming – in “moving on” from cancer), Dr. Alison Rosen and I located 4 controlled studies, mostly from Europe, that stated that recovery rates improved when survivors were actively engaged in aerobic exercise. As Dr. Jones reports, no one was doing viable studies about whether exercise could be a positive intervention during cancer treatment. 

Over the next ten years, worldwide research organizations, including major health institutions in the USA‎, completed studies with survivors, which yielded the following findings:

1) Exercise improves quality of life in survivors

2) Exercise speeds up recovery

3) Exercise can prolong length of life

4) Exercise reduces the chance of recurrence

Replication studies have validated many of these findings; but the whys of each of the above‎ are still being discovered and just what is perfect for people during treatment needs more randomized controlled research. 

Driven by even the small amount of data available and her own experience in going through treatment, Dr. Alison Rosen motivated Jan Albert and myself to design a GENTLE exercise program that could contribute to survivors’ improvements. We focused first on women dealing with the side-effects of breast cancer treatment. In creating the program I followed the traditional intervention guidelines that women should only begin exercising six weeks after surgery and with physician clearances.

Right away we partnered with ‎SHARE Cancer support and Gilda’s Club. Since these support centers offer programming to diverse people with different types of cancer, we saw the anecdotal positive effects of our program with women with various types of reproductive cancers (breast, uterine, cervical, ovarian) and men and women with brain, colon, lung, pancreatic, appendicular, metastatic cancers among others. While mostly post-surgery – a few people came to prep for surgery – many were active in their chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Many still are. 

Here’s what we hear:

“Moving For Life makes me feel better about myself.”

“I am no longer just identified with my cancer.”

“Even if I feel exhausted, I am surprised that I feel better once I’ve finished class.”

‎”When I take class regularly I have more energy for the rest of my life – housework and work.”

We could go on and on….

Related to in-treatment research, ‎Dr. Freya Schnabel, Head of Breast Surgery at NYU Medical Center, observed that of her patients, the ones attending these classes were feeling better. Apace with the findings that aerobic exercise was also reducing rates of breast cancer recurrence, Dr. Schnabel initiated her own pilot research. Moving For Life was invited to be the central intervention (together with two nutrition classes) with NYU Langone Medical Center’s Breast ‎Program to see what impact twice-a-week Moving For Life classes could have on BodyMass Index (BMI) in an eight-week period (Click here to see the NYU research poster). We found that women were motivated to exercise and that a majority of the women lost a pound per week (6 – 13 lbs in 8 weeks of training). Because of Hurricane Sandy, the study stretched out over 10 weeks. 

Longitudinal data is still being collected by NYU Langone as to determine whether women continue to exercise once the study ended. The post-6-month study revealed that losing the support of the group had negative impact. NYU then instituted a Sunday morning class, but it wasn’t well attended either. Barriers to exercise post-treatment will hopefully continue to be revealed through this research and that of other labs like Dr. Jones’. 

As a side note we also found that there was lots of research showing that music is an anti-depressant. Since depression is another common side-effect to having a life-threatening illness, we decided it was important that I design a program with music. Jan Albert, an award-winning video and TV producer and former DJ stepped up and helped us select winning music. 

By Dr. Martha Eddy | April 2016


Click The Lee Jones Lab or The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, for more information on MSKCC’s team of researchers and their published study on aerobic activity and cancer.


 

 

 

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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Inspiration and YOU – Join MFL in Addressing Health Disparities

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This is just a quick message to say that Moving For Life (MFL) believes that the process of dealing with health difficulties is on the continuum of working for equity for all.   As we each seek balance and equilibrium, MFL helps people harness their own creativity and joy to recuperate from the challenges of life. Nevertheless we come across bumps in the road – the cost of things, the access to what we need or want, the extra burdensome bits of bureaucracy and yes, still the injustices. There continue to be disparities in health services – in insurance, in health care delivery, and in health education.

Moving For Life is an allied medical service – a wellness model – focusing on healthy lifestyles with expertise in movement, exercise and dance as well as in mindfulness, meditation and rejuvenation.  We also are committed to partnering with groups like Cook For Your Life that teach about healthy eating and guide us to better nutrition.

We are also committed to overcoming disparities in health care delivery.  It is an uncomfortable fact that fewer African-American women in the GREATER NYC area experience breast cancer but MORE die from it.  For Latina women – there is a large percentage of women that just never get the services that others have access too.

In 2014 a team including Holly Mills nutritionist, Darlene Nnanyelugoh and MFL director, Martha Eddy were accepted to present Moving For Life’s model at the Columbia University, Teacher’s College Health Disparities conference. Dr. Eddy also presented a case study from Latina SHARE.

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We invite you join us in this drive to bring knowledge and active guidance in safely changing habits to life-enhancing behaviors to ALL. We appreciate your spreading the word about Moving For Life programs, and our need for tax-deductible funds as well as volunteers for events and office administration.

We have been honored to share Moving For Life DanceExercise for BREAST CANCER and REPRODUCTIVE CANCER RECOVERY through our partnerships with the Comprehensive Breast Center and SHARE, for CANCER RECOVERY for Women and Men (at Gilda’s ClubQueens Cancer Center, Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx), and MFL DanceExercise for Health with all people looking to improve their health at Emblem Health Neighborhood Center in Harlem. With our new status as a tax-exempt non-profit we are growing  quickly to share these programs in more sites throughout the boroughs!

Wishing you a day of envisioning and healthy action.

In case you missed it – Martha Eddy in Dance Teacher Magazine

Moving For Life’s co-founder and program designer, Martha Eddy who is also an Exercise Physiologist. Somatic Movement Therapist, Certified Movement Analyst and Dance Educator wascropped-927738_2152409_14006083761.jpgfeatured in Dance Teacher Magazine.  Learn all about our history and how inspired our teachers are around the country. Thank you Caitlin Sims for writing a thorough and sensitive account of Moving For Life!  She includes quotes from our Bay Area MFL Certified Instructor (MFLCI) Melinda Teustchel and highlights the poignant story of one of our most active New York area MFLCI – Catherine Gross. 

Here is the article:

Dancing to Heal

Posted on March 1, 2014 by
Martha Eddy has created a movement class to counter the side effects of cancer treatment.

Martha Eddy (at center, in orange) leads a Moving For Life class in NYC.

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As Melinda Teutschel begins teaching an early afternoon Moving For Life class in Pleasant Hill, California, the dancers stand in a circle and close their eyes. “We’re going to find our breath,” she says. They move from a gentle warm-up through exercises that isolate and coordinate legs and arms, to a flowy aerobic section focused on balance and strength-building, then scatter to the walls for stretching. It takes a careful eye to realize that the program is created specifically for breast cancer patients, because, well, the participants are having so much fun. But this class is meticulously designed to be therapeutic, as well as invigorating.

It is clear, however, that this has evolved beyond a movement class into a supportive community. When one student, who has had recent foot surgery, needs to elevate her leg, others offer ice, pillows and a blanket. Another who has had recent reconstructive surgery confers with Teutschel and rejoins the class with minor modifications.

Moving For Life is an innovative program for breast cancer patients created by Martha Eddy in 1999. Eddy drew upon her knowledge of physiology, deep understanding of movement science and somatic education and the compassionate soul of an artist in creating MFL, which has spread beyond its New York roots across the U.S. to Japan, Canada and the Netherlands.

The initial concept, not surprisingly, came from a breast cancer patient herself. Dr. Allison (Annie) Stern Rosen was fatigued, depressed and struggling to get off the couch after surgery and radiation. She flipped on the TV and saw exercise guru Richard Simmons. Although she wasn’t strong enough to do many of the exercises, she swayed to the music. After 10 minutes, she was surprised to feel better. From this came an idea: Why not create an exercise DVD for people recovering from breast cancer? Rosen turned to Jan Albert, a friend, television producer and documentary filmmaker. Albert knew Martha Eddy, a certified movement analyst trained in Laban/Bartenieff studies and licensed Body-Mind Centering teacher, who also has an EdD in movement science and education from Columbia University.

Eddy spent hours talking with Rosen about the symptoms of breast cancer treatment, which can include joint pain, peripheral neuropathy and lymphedema. Each symptom impacted how Eddy designed the class. “That’s where my expertise in somatic movement came in really beautifully,” she says. “Annie’d say her joints hurt, and she didn’t want to get down on the floor or do level changes. She also said, ‘I’ve got fire feet,’ which is peripheral neuropathy. From chemotherapy, the nerves in people’s feet become a little numb or overly sensitive. In either case, it throws off balance. The third symptom she had was lymphedema, or swelling particularly of the lymph nodes.”

Eddy drew upon the diverse elements of her own training to design the class. “From my kinetic studies of Body-Mind Centering, I understood how to help lymphatic fluid flow as well as how to calm the nerves. And through my understanding of movement therapy, I was able to design exercises to meet each of those issues. Because of my background in exercise physiology, I could create a program that is gradated and safe. I used the dance education knowledge to parallel the use of the music to the gradation for the aerobic effect, and to make it fun.”

MFL centers around a set “classic” class that progresses through specific exercises set to music. Eddy piloted it at Teachers College, Columbia University, with breast and ovarian cancer patients. When Rosen and Albert realized how expensive creating a video would be, they tabled the idea. But Eddy had already designed the class, so she took it to hospitals and cancer support programs in New York City.

She was ahead of the curve; most other cancer exercise programs then shied away from an aerobic component. For Eddy, it was essential. “The number-one side effect to cancer is fatigue,” she explains. “But exercise combats fatigue. It’s the same way that working with weights strengthens muscles. You tax the muscles, and when they heal they come back stronger. It’s the same with cells. Unless you actually work yourself into the target heart range, they don’t get taxed, so they don’t work to become more efficient.”

The class was successful enough that Eddy soon needed to train other teachers. She had already created her own teacher-training program called Dynamic Embodiment, blending elements of Laban/Bartenieff work and Body-Mind Centering; this program became the initial source of teachers for MFL. As the program has expanded beyond New York City, Eddy has set prerequisites for the teacher-training that can be completed elsewhere. Students then attend 30 MFL classes as apprentice teachers, complete a pedagogical workshop in New York and take an exam. In all, it’s about 100 hours of training.

The training is comprehensive enough to enable teachers to adapt the “classic” class to fit the needs of their students. “We are also trained to be improvisational,” says Teutschel, who completed MFL’s teacher-training program in 2004 and started classes in the Bay Area in 2010. “So we have tons of tools in our basket to address many different students.” Teutschel calls the students in her Pleasant Hill class her rotator-cuff group. “They’ve all either had surgery or are in line to,” she says, “so we do a lot of experiential anatomy, learning how the shoulder girdle works. They soak it up because they know that it’s helping them.” Teutschel thinks this self-knowledge is one of the most valuable lessons of MFL. “The healing process entails education,” she says. “This is highly educational, but it’s accessible.”

As Teutschel’s class in Pleasant Hill comes to a close, one of the dancers turns to a friend. “We all know how important exercise is,” she says. “I’m beating this. Psychologically it’s so empowering.” DT

San Francisco–based Caitlin Sims is a former editor in chief of Dance Teacher.

In August, the initial vision of Rosen, Albert and Eddy was finally realized with a professionally produced DVD, Moving For Life, Dance to Recovery, which includes a 50-minute workout, a seated exercise class, a dance lesson and interviews with participants and doctors, plus health tips. movingforlife.org

From Student to Teacher 

Catherine Gross came to Moving For Life as a participant and was so transformed by her experience that she became a MFL teacher.

Catherine Gross was introduced to Moving For Life while she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. “I felt at home right away,” she says. “It was safe; it was organic. The fact that I could move made a huge difference psychologically.” Gross appreciated the fact that the class could adjust to her changing needs during recovery, and that it was tailored specifically for breast cancer patients.

The class buoyed her spirits as well as strengthened her body. “I felt uplifted. The music was fun. And it was a place where we focused on what can we do, as opposed to what are the problems. It was getting back to who we really are, our own essence, our own bodies, our spirits. You can lose that when you are dealing with surgery and chemotherapy.”

She immediately wanted to learn more and eventually trained to become a MFL teacher. “I felt there was so much that was deep within it,” she says. “You learn how to tap into your internal energy through rhythm and music. I thought that was so powerful.”

When asked if she brings something extra to teaching because of her own experience as a patient, she demurs. “I think that all the MFL teachers are very sensitive to students’ needs,” she says. She acknowledges it can be inspiring for students to see the journey she has taken from student to teacher. And that she understands completely the feeling of having the world turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis.

MFL classes can be a respite from all that. “You’re moving, and for a moment you’re really forgetting about it,” she says. “Being able to express how something is feeling nonverbally is so healing. It’s a positive way of getting back into your life and getting back into your body.”

 Photos by Angelida Vanessa, courtesy of MFL

EXERCISE IS A TICKET TO LONGER LIFE: ARE YOU EXERCISING ENOUGH?

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EmblemHealth Class

This research is a bit disheartening. Only 35% of cancer patients are engaged in needed levels of exercise and many have decreased their activity since treatment. MAYBE ITS JUST NOT FUN ENOUGH. Moving For Life is fun, and full of great sensitive non-judgmental people.  If you or people you know have experienced cancer its time to join our free classes or get our #DanceToRecoveryDVD.  Move into Positive Health!

MFL at the Hike-a-thon
MFL team at the Hike-a-thon
Our class at EmblemHealth, 4 doors east of the Apollo Theatre in Harlem has room for you and your loved ones. Indeed its open to anyone dealing with the stress of disease – whether high blood pressure, diabetes, weight management, or cancer.  Its time to add a good helping of WELLNESS in your life.

Moving your way to a better stronger you!

I was first exposed to Moving For Life (MFL) through my endless late night hours of Internet research, desperately trying to find an organization, institute or even a person that works with cancer patients through exercise. I knewSamara headshot  it existed and I knew the remarkable positive impact movement has on those going through treatment and recovery, but finding the right source was certainly a mission. Till one day Icame across a non-profit organization that was founded by reputable professionals comprised of breastcancersurvivors, movement therapists, psychologists, medical doctors and concerned physicians. Their personal stories initiated the creation of Moving For Life – a healthy exercise program medically endorsed by numerous surgeons, oncologists and social workers (and engaged in research with NYU Langone Medical Center), that uses gentle aerobics, dance and fitness related exercises to help regain immunity, mental and physical strength while fighting all symptoms of treatment such as fatigue, neuropathy, lymphedema and an overall depleted self. I immediately wrote an email to MFL all the way from India, one that could be considered very far from a formal introductory description of my professional capabilities and very close to an informal personal story from the heart. I hardly expected a response, but to my surprise I got it soon after from a woman named Martha. I then learnt in the coming weeks that Dr. Martha Eddy, one of the co-founders of MFL is a reputable Exercise Physiologist, and Registered Movement Therapist (RSMT) with a doctorate from Columbia University in Movement Science and Education and a world-renowned dance educator. She was one of the early founders of the cancer exercise profession. I started to recognize how fortunate I was to be in such distinguished company.

Samara in action at the dance parade 2014
Samara in action at the dance parade!

I now train to be an MFL teacher and attend the free MFL classes that are offered for patients and their loved ones around New York City, (as well as Cincinnati, Canada and Tokyo).  At my first class, what was actually a one-hour session seemed to fly by. The energy in the room was exuberant. Amongst the cancer survivors, there were of course those who were slightly less physically active and some who
if had more energy than usual, but everyon Continue reading Moving your way to a better stronger you!