Finding hope for people with COPD through exercise

Bookmark and Share

UMSN Research Associate She'Lon Turner preps a group at the start of an exercise session

Difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus and wheezing are the key symptoms that make daily activities difficult for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In addition, people with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung ca­­­­­ncer and other conditions.

Research Associate Amina Peters keeps a helpful eye on a participantWhile there is no cure for the disease, University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) researchers are finding ways to ease the strife that comes with COPD, especially when it’s coupled with sedentary behavior and chronic conditions that tend to increase as people age.

UMSN Professor Janet L. Larson, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and colleagues are conducting a research study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to examine the effects of two physical activity programs in people with moderate and severe COPD. The study builds on Larson’s three decades of research dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with COPD.

Emerging research has shown that increasing light physical activity has positive health benefits, including decreased COPD symptoms, improved endurance, and reduced anxiety and stress. Larson’s study will examine the effects of two physical activity programs, both focused on light physical activity. 

“The knowledge we gain from this research will be useful in refining programs to promote healthy living for people with COPD,” said Larson.

Recruiting participants

Research Associate She'Lon Tucker helps a participant with one of the activities

The research team is currently enrolling people with COPD to participate in the exercise study. New groups start four times a year. The research study requires attendance at two exercise sessions a week for 10 weeks.  Exercise sessions are held in the gymnasium at Bethlehem United Church of Christ on Fourth Avenue in Ann Arbor, Mich. The program will also assess exercise capabilities, attitudes about physical activity and breathing symptoms before and after the program. Patients who are interested in participating are invited to call (734) 936-3283 for more information.