Research study expands to help Flint-area residents

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Exercise participants stretching

A University of Michigan research program designed to support people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is expanding from Ann Arbor to Flint.

Difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing are some of the symptoms that can make daily activities difficult for people with COPD. In addition, people with COPD have an increased risk of developing heart disease, lung ca­­­­­ncer and other conditions.

While there is no cure for the disease, University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) researchers are finding ways make life with COPD more manageable. UMSN Professor Janet L. Larson, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and colleagues are conducting a study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to examine the effects of light physical activity in people with moderate and severe COPD.

The study began with participants in the Ann-Arbor area but is now expanding to Flint. Participation requires attendance at two exercise sessions a week for 10 weeks. The sessions will be held in the gymnasium at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, 4119 North Saginaw Street in Flint. The program will also assess exercise capabilities, attitudes about physical activity and breathing symptoms before and after the program. New groups start twice a year. It is free for qualified participants.

The study builds on Larson’s three decades of research dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with COPD. Emerging research by Larson and other researchers has shown that increasing light physical activity has positive health benefits, including decreased COPD symptoms, improved endurance, and reduced anxiety and stress. Larson says while this particular study does not have official findings to release yet, she is seeing a positive impact.

“More than 70 people have completed the program in Ann Arbor and they tell us that they really like the program and want to continue after it is finished,” said Larson. “We encourage and assist them in finding community programs that they can attend to retain the health benefits.”

Recruiting participants

People who are interested in participating are invited to call (734) 936-3283 for more information.