The main objective of the ‘My body, my rhythm, my voice’ research project is to help improve the quality of life for women who have survived breast cancer as well as their families through physical activity. The project was undertaken in the Faculties of Medicine and Psychology at the Universidad de los Andes as part of an alliance with the University of Stanford.
The scientific evidence shows the positive effects on the physical, mental, and emotional health of women in areas including: a decrease in the probability of the cancer returning and the side effects of treatments; an increased chance of survival; and positive impacts on self-esteem, self-confidence, and social support experience.
The project tries to ensure the comprehensive wellbeing of two pioneering groups of female survivors of breast cancer through dance classes and psychosocial support. The 64 female participants were given thirty-two guided physical activity sessions with music, and tests were made for body measurements, aerobic capacity, levels of physical activity, indicators of physical and mental health, and quality of life.
The program was designed, implemented, and evaluated by the Epidemiological Group at the Universidad de Los Andes and supported by the District Institute of Recreation and Sport, the Health Secretariat, the League Against Cancer, the SIMMON Foundation, the Ámese Association, the Universidad Manuela Beltrán, and the San José Hospital, and it used an interdisciplinary approach as well as different qualitative methodologies through focus groups and working groups.
According to researchers on the project, the joint commitment is to ensure that the physical activity program is adopted sustainably, accessibly, and safely, and that it contributes to developing new programs and public policies for the wellbeing of populations such as breast cancer survivors.
About the disease
Cancer is one of the most important chronic non-transmittable diseases, and breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. Physical activity as a protective factor against cancer has become a priority on the international public health agenda.
It is urgent, especially in Colombia, to increase women’s physical activity levels. Throughout their lives, from when they are in preschool until adulthood, they tend to be less physically active in their free time than men (González, Sarmiento, Lozano, Ramírez, & Grijalba, 2014; Ministerio de Salud, 2015).
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