Retiree John Yow was diagnosed with invasive squamous cell carcinoma.  At the time, he was also a participant in a research study with the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine (CEM). Yow had been weight training under the guidance of a research scientist and exercise physiologist. As he prepared for the fight of his life, his doctors agreed, it could only help that he was physically fit. 

"The weight-lifting I was doing had me in good shape and gave me strength that I was able to use when I was sick and helped me make it through my treatment," Yow said. He endured seven months of multiple surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. "Now that I’m in remission and exercising again, I've noticed my flexibility is better, I'm stronger and I feel better every day. My goal now is to get back to as normal as I can."

Surviving head and neck cancer is no small feat. Researchers at UAB believe part of the reason Yow recovered is the exercise regime he had adopted as part of the study.

"We've known for a long time that exercise is good for our health," says Marcas Bamman, Ph.D. and Director of the Center. “What we are finding out is that optimizing exercise treatments for specific diseases using a dose-response approach can have a significant impact on the health and well being of that individual.  Also, specific diseases respond to certain exercise treatments.”

The UAB CEM interdisciplinary team brings together 200 members and trainees, 36 departments, and 10 schools for a multi-science approach.  "The overall goal is to determine how we can best intervene with exercise in specific diseases, aging, and wellness to have the greatest impact on quality of life, " states Dr. Bamman.

Bamman has spent over 15 years studying exercise and its impact and is considered an expert on the subject.  Targeted areas for future research at the UAB CEM include Parkinson’s, Diabetes, obesity, cardiometabolic diseases, age related movement disorders, and wellness initiatives.  

“Exercise is powerful medicine; however, numerous clinically important questions require major advances in research.  The UAB Center for Exercise Medicine is a leader in this field and we are continually exploring new ways to accelerate this important research,” states Bamman.

John Yow continues to do well and is grateful for the difference exercise made in his recovery. To support further research in this area, please consider making a gift to the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine.  For more information, contact Purnima Kasthuri Janarthanan, Communications Coordinator, at