Nia Exercise Shows Benefits for Women with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In Natural Healing, Nia, Videos by Debra Reis

Recently, information about our research study supporting the use of Nia exercise for women with a diagnosis of breast cancer has been published in both Oncology Nursing Forum and Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing (abstracts at the
following links: Effects of Nia Exercise in Women Receiving Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer and A Review of Nia as an Exercise Option for Cancer Survivors.)

The latest statistics from the American Cancer Society is that 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Exercise has been supported by the American Cancer Society and other organizations for individuals receiving cancer treatment.

The problem is that often the person does not feel like exercise during treatment. Cancer treatment can leave a person with fatigue, pain and feeling low. Nia is a program that is adaptable to all fitness levels. It is a fusion fitness program that integrates three art forms: martial arts like Tae Kwon Do, the dance arts like jazz, and the healing arts such as yoga. In addition, there are 52 movement forms which give a variety of options for moving your body. In this video with cancer survivors, you can see how movement forms are done using the option of a chair, moderate movement or athletic option –

This video was done in conjunction with our research studies. Our first study compared a 12 week Nia program practiced at home to usual care with women diagnosed with breast cancer and receiving radiation therapy. We reviewed the variables of fatigue, quality of life, aerobic capacity with the 6 minute walk test and shoulder flexibility.

The findings showed that those in the Nia group reported significantly less fatigue between weeks 6 and 12. This is right after radiation is completed and many feel the full effect of fatigue and discomfort with possible burns on the skin. Although not statistically significant, findings were favorable for the Nia group for quality of life and aerobic capacity. One of the exciting results was in shoulder flexibility where the Nia group demonstrated clinical significance for mobility and preservation. This result has prompted our research team to explore this further in our next study. One of the long term concerns with women treated for breast cancer is arm and/or shoulder movement being compromised. We hope that Nia may be beneficial for women with a breast cancer diagnosis both during and after treatment.

For more information, check out my website and go to the medical professional tab, resources where you can find the abstracts of the studies mentioned as well as the Nia video created for the research study.