Exercise can be difficult for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but since it is so vital to maintaining overall health, COPD patients need a way to incorporate exercise into their lives. A solution is being tested in a clinical trial sponsored by Laval University and led by principal investigators Francois Maltais, MD, and Didier Saey, Pht, PhD, at the Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ).
“The results of this project will provide important information to help developing and implementing customized exercise training programs for patients with COPD,” explained Andrè Nyberg, PhD, main contact for the trial at IUCPQ, in the study protocol published in Trials. The study protocol, entitled “Muscular and Functional Effects of Partitioning Exercising Muscle Mass in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – A Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial,” described the trial design that randomized its first participant in November 2014.
Researchers at IUCPQ are interested in alleviating the burden of exercise on COPD patients, where disability comes in the form of exercise intolerance, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and leg fatigue. Since limb muscle weakness affects a large number of COPD patients at all stages of disease, the researchers are evaluating the recommendation for high-repetition resistance exercises. This contrasts the typical recommendation of using high loads and a low number of repetitions for COPD patients during exercise.
The trial is listed as recruiting patients under the clinical trial record, “Low Load, High-repetitive Elastic Band Resistance Training in COPD.” As a prospective trial, COPD patients, aged 40 years and older, will be randomized into one of two groups. Healthy individuals will also be randomized. The two groups are single-limb, high repetition resistance band training and two-limb, high repetition resistance band training. Both groups will complete their exercises three times a week for eight weeks.
Participants will be given pamphlets of illustrated exercises to complete with resistance bands. There is one set for one-limb exercises and one set for two-limb exercises. To evaluate the effects of either treatment, an assessor blinded to patient groups will evaluate changes in six-minute walking distance, changes in limb muscle strength and endurance capacity, and biochemical aspects of muscle performance.
“The prevention of limb muscle dysfunction in patients with COPD is considered of utmost importance,” wrote Dr. Nyberg. “However, the progressive increase in dyspnea during exercise training that is common in COPD may limit patient’s ability to achieve optimal exercise stimulus since it causes premature exercise limitation.” By incorporating low-intensity, high-resistance exercises into their weekly routine, COPD patients may benefit from exercise without troubling symptoms.