New research is aiming to build on the benefits of keeping active for patients with lung disease.
The new study at Salford Royal is based on the very successful Breathing Better programme for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of lung conditions where the airways have narrowed.
Patients on the programme get twice-weekly exercise sessions tailored to their condition for six weeks at venues across Salford – and the results have been hugely beneficial. Previous research has shown that patients with COPD who take gentle exercise have less breathlessness, more independence, fewer flare-ups of their illness and fewer admissions to hospital.
Now Consultant Respiratory Physician Dr Nawar Bakerly has started a new study to see if providing patients with Fitbit fitness monitors to record their activity levels and then giving them feedback and advice each week on exercise, will increase their level of activity and improve health.
Dr Bakerly said: “We know exercise is good for people with COPD and our Breathing Better programme of gentle cardiovascular and aerobic exercises has immense value for patients. We find our patients love this programme- they feel better for it with regards to their health but also enjoy the social aspects of meeting others with the same condition.
“This new research is based on the idea that if people know how much activity they’re doing – and that includes everyday activities such as walking and shopping as well as the exercise classes – they will be motivated to do more, especially if they are encouraged by the feedback and advice of their health professionals, and have targets which they aim to achieve.
“The Breathing Better programme works really well at getting people with COPD to take the exercise that will help them but we hope the additional technology will improve the effects even further. We will be checking patients’ activity levels and the number of steps they take each day, as well as assessing the severity of their symptoms.”
Up to 30 patients will take part in this small scale feasibility study which could lead to a bigger programme of research.
Salford has a high incidence of COPD, which is linked to breathing in harmful substances such as cigarette smoke. The city has around 6,000 patients with the condition but it’s thought that there could be almost as many undiagnosed cases. Most people are looked after by their GP surgery but around 750 people a year have such serious problems that they need to be admitted to Salford Royal.