Friday, March 8, 2013


Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks. A great example is that of YMCA of Darke County member Gudren Newbauer, who recently learned to swim at the age of 71. Gudren is a Silver Sneakers member and had been taking a fitness class in the pool. She always stayed in the front row during the class, as shallow as the pool gets. Instructor Ruth Macklin and class member Barbara Martin noticed her hesitance and asked if she could swim. She said no, adding that she did not really like the water. They said they would teach her to swim. Gudren was doubtful.

“They worked with me, and worked with me, and worked with me,” she said, “and one day, I just took off. I just love it now!” She went from fear of water to loving it. “My kids think it’s great,” she said, “they knew I’d been afraid of the water all my life. So you can teach an old dog new tricks!”

Gudren is at the Darke County facility about 4 times a week, taking water fitness classes and yoga.

She is also a cancer survivor, recovering from lymphoma. “They caught it early,” she said. She finished her last chemo treatment around Christmas.

“I don’t think my recovery would have went as well as it did without it, (swimming and exercise)”

“I’m happy to be back, wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said. “I feel good, I feel strong.”

According to the American Cancer Society, research strongly suggests that exercise is not only safe during cancer treatment, but it can also improve physical functioning and many aspects of quality of life. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve fatigue (extreme tiredness), anxiety, and self-esteem. It also helps heart and blood vessel fitness, muscle strength, and body composition (how much of your body is made up of fat, bone, or muscle).

People getting chemotherapy and radiation who already exercise may need to do so at a lower intensity and build up more slowly than people who are not getting cancer treatment. The main goal should be to stay as active as possible and slowly increase your level of activity over time after treatment.

There have been studies of survivors of breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancers that show that people with higher levels of physical activity after diagnosis lived longer and had less chance of the cancer coming back. More studies are needed to see if exercise has a direct effect on cancer growth. Other studies have found that yoga can be helpful in terms of anxiety, depression, distress, and stress. It didn't seem to be as helpful for more physical outcomes, such as body composition, fitness, and muscle strength. More research is needed, but to get the most benefit, it may be best to combine yoga with aerobic exercise and resistance (weight) training.

In the meantime, since physical activity is known to prevent heart and blood vessel disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, cancer survivors should try to have a physically active lifestyle.

It’s never too late to change your lifestyle and add more physical activity! If you are interested in learning what they YMCA of Darke County has to offer, stop in for a tour, visit us online at or call the Y at 548-3777.

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