Personalized exercise routines maximize benefits for lung patients

Many top BC lung researchers today got their start thanks to BC Lung Association donor funding. Every year, we award a number of post-doctoral fellowships to rising stars in lung health-related research. 

Dr. Yannick Molgat-Seon, one of our most recent fellowship recipients is discovering how to help patients with a rare form of lung disease get the most out of exercise.

Without a known cure and few treatment options, whole body exercise training is one of few options known to improve quality of life for patients suffering from interstitial lung disease (ILD), a family of rare lung diseases that includes idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

In patients with a more common form of chronic lung disease — COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) — exercise rehabilitation has long been a cornerstone of active treatment for which the best exercises are well-known. But, for those diagnosed with ILD, a less common condition which manifests differently inside the lungs, the same exercise training may not work as well, and modifications may be necessary to derive the greatest benefits.

“Patients with ILD often experience severe shortness of breath. This limits how much exercise they can tolerate, so we need to employ alternative exercise strategies,” said Dr. Molgat-Seon.

“For example, we know the use of supplemental oxygen administered during training can help patients feel more comfortable and enable them to exercise longer and thus derive greater fitness benefits,” he continued.

“There is also growing evidence to suggest skeletal muscle function in ILD patients may be impaired, but more research is needed to address the current knowledge gap. This is where my research is currently focused.”

“I’m studying how skeletal muscles in ILD patients are affected by the disease, and what potential exists to strengthen these muscles with the aim of improving patients’ overall fitness and well-being.”

Ultimately, Dr. Molgat-Seon and his colleagues at the UBC Cardiopulmonary Exercise Physiology Lab are working to understand the factors that limit exercise capacity in patients faced with different forms of lung disease. Their goal is to personalize exercise training programs, recognizing what modifications need to be made for the individual, in order to achieve the greatest possible patient benefits. 

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Dr. Molgat-Seon received his B.Sc. (2009) in Human Kinetics, his M.Sc. (2012) in Exercise Physiology at the University of Ottawa, and his Ph.D. (2018) in exercise and respiratory physiology from the School of Kinesiology at UBC. Today, he is a postdoctoral fellow at UBC’s Cardiopulmonary Exercise Physiology Laboratory at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

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Page Last Updated: 14/11/2018