WFU research study seeks adults with breathing problems

Researchers at Wake Forest University are seeking participants for a research study that will examine ways for people with breathing problems to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

The study is the second phase of the Reconditioning Exercise And Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Trial, known as REACT. It is a joint effort between researchers in the university’s health and exercise science department and at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, and is paid for by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The study targets men and women who have difficulty breathing when performing daily activities such as walking or climbing stairs; are current or past smokers or have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like emphysema or chronic bronchitis; and do not exercise regularly.

In the study’s first phase, completed in 1999, researchers studied older adults who fit the same criteria and placed them in two groups— one in a traditional three-month exercise program, the other in an 18-month exercise program. The researchers evaluated
both groups after 18 months and found that those who stayed in a structured exercise
program the entire time were better able to do daily activities and had less difficulty breathing when doing those activities.

“It was already known that exercise can help COPD patients,” said Michael Berry, a professor of health and exercise science and REACT’s principal investigator. “The first
phase of our study showed that continual exercise is even more beneficial.”

REACT’s second phase will introduce a behavioral intervention program intended to produce the benefits of a longer program without the added time and cost. Researchers hope that by teaching adults with COPD to change their daily habits to be more active, rather than participating in structured exercise alone, they will more likely continue the behavior on their own long after a structured program is complete.

“In most cases, an 18-month exercise program is not feasible, either financially or logistically, for the patient,” Berry said. “We’re proposing that by extending the three-month program by a couple of months and modifying it to teach behavior and lifestyle changes, we will be successful in keeping people physically active despite their breathing disability.”

Participants will be randomly placed in two groups— one a traditional three-month exercise program, the other a twelve-month exercise and lifestyle activity/behavioral education program. The exercise program will consist of walking and light strength training. The lifestyle program will include classes on health and behavior in addition to exercise. Each group will have the same amount of contact with instructors.

Both programs will be on the university’s Reynolda Campus. There is no cost to participate in the study and local transportation will be available. Researchers encourage anyone interested in participating in the program to contact the REACT study participant coordinator at 336-758-4958.

Categories: Research, School of Medicine, University Announcement