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Could supervised home exercise help people with pulmonary hypertension?

Research In this section

Page added February 2022

Like many things, the SPHERe trial suffered a set-back due to COVID-19. But it’s now back, and just as determined to discover more about the benefits of physical activity in PH.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out how to get involved…

The trial is being led by clinical exercise rehabilitation experts and researchers from the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, and the University of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit. It initially set out to launch at the start of 2020, and after delays due to the pandemic, it’s now begun recruitment once again.

Funded by a £1.3m grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the trial aims to find out if exercise rehabilitation can be done at home with online (remote) supervision from trained exercise specialists.

Watch Stuart Ennis, one of the exercise specialists working on the trial, tell PHA UK Chair Iain Armstrong all about it below:

Who can take part?

Researchers are looking for 352 people with pulmonary hypertension from anywhere in the UK. Fitness levels are unimportant, but to take part you must have access to the internet and be able to follow exercise sessions online.

What will be involved?

Researchers will allocate people randomly (using a computer) into two groups. Group one will be invited to take part in the remote supervised exercise programme for eight weeks, and group two will receive general advice on physical activity.

Those in group one will need to travel to assessment sites in either Coventry, Walsall, Birmingham or Glasgow for an initial assessment involving an incremental shuttle walk test. They will then be asked to follow an eight-week individual online exercise programme at home, with a weekly catch-up call with an exercise specialist and a weekly online-led group exercise and support  session.

After four months and 12 months, participants will be asked to return to the assessment site for further tests. Travel costs will be reimbursed.

Work is taking place to identify more sites around the UK.

Why does this study matter?

Existing research shows that exercise rehabilitation may be helpful for people with certain types of pulmonary hypertension, by helping to reduce symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue, and making it easier to carry out day-to-day activities.

But these studies looked at giving exercise to people, under supervision, whilst they were in hospital.

Until now, no research has looked at whether exercise can be prescribed outside of the hospital setting, for people living with pulmonary hypertension in the community.

The findings of this study will help researchers understand how effective this type of supervised exercise is, so that similar programmes can be used by the NHS to help more people with PH.

How do I find out more or sign up?

More information about the trial can be found at www.warwick.ac.uk/sphere. You can contact the researchers directly with any questions, or put yourself forward for the study, be emailing SPHERe@warwick.ac.uk or calling 02476234570.