Gymnasium mooted for new hospital

Dr Lynnette Jones, of the University of Otago School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise...
Dr Lynnette Jones, of the University of Otago School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
University of Otago researcher Dr Lynnette Jones is keen to see a gymnasium added to the planned new Dunedin Hospital complex, because of the big health benefits for patients arising from physical exercise.

Dr Jones, a senior lecturer in the Otago School of Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Sciences, said she would also like to see the Ministry of Health support cancer patients undergoing treatment so they could access appropriate exercise programmes.

Providing facilities at the redeveloped hospital complex and including trainers with expertise in exercise physiology would be sensible, given there was "solid evidence" internationally that exercise generated health benefits among cancer survivors.

Appropriate exercise also played a valuable preventive and therapeutic role with many other medical conditions, including cardiovascular illness.

"Ideally, in the future, funded exercise opportunities will be available to all those diagnosed with cancer."

For the past nine years, Dr Jones has run individually tailored exercise programmes for current and former breast cancer patients, working closely with the Dunedin Hospital oncology department, and medical oncologist Dr Blair McLaren.

During a recent visit to Dunedin, a leading US researcher on exercise and cancer, Prof Kathryn Schmitz, said that increased aerobic exercise, including more walking or running, reduced the risk of subsequent death by up to 35% among women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Prof Schmitz, who is president of the American College of Sports Medicine, also praised the Otago cancer exercise programme as one of the best in the world, and a rare "international example" of how to encourage exercise among people with a cancer diagnosis.

Dr Jones had supported a close friend through her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2005-09, and got to know some of the oncology staff.

A chance conversation with a clinical nurse specialist led to Dr Jones setting up the Otago exercise programme in late 2009.

About 120-130 regular clients attended individual or group training each week, and there were about 60 new referrals each year.

Exercise in a supportive setting often had a "profound effect" on participants.

"The rewarding thing is seeing people get stronger, fitter, and more confident in themselves."

"We see improvements in physiological function such as cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, and joint range of motion."

The programme also provided "substantial social support and interaction", and psychological benefits such as "increased confidence and decreased perceptions of fatigue".

Clients worked individually for about six months with a trainer experienced in dealing with people with cancer.

Working with a trainer experienced in clinical exercise physiology also helped people to "follow through and form an exercise habit".

Similar programmes could be set up elsewhere in the country, but "funding and experienced, qualified trainers" were also needed.


My wish for the new build is a multi-story car park....Run by the hospital and not the useless DCC or greedy Wilsons Parking.

Will that happen?!...Nope.

I have the exact same wish, but also agree 100%.

We'll probably end up with a couple of small underground car parks, and a couple single level outdoor car parks. It'll be a missed opportunity, just like the Uni's single level outdoor carpark on the site of the old tea factory, that would have been perfect for a three story or so carpark for students and staff, and would have given residents their parks back.