Monday, September 19, 2011

How Tonic may help kids with cystic fibrosis stick with exercise

Getting enough exercise can be a struggle for most of us, but for some it's particularly challenging — including children with cystic fibrosis (CF). Now doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University, led by Mona Luke-Zeitoun, are trying a new approach: They're providing personalized exercise coaching and the Tonic self-care app to kids with CF in the hope it'll make it easier for them to stick with their workout regimen.

Here's how the study will work: A personal trainer will work with the children and their families to design an individualized exercise program and teach the kids various exercise techniques. For the next six months, the trainer will check in weekly to monitor the children's progress, modify the exercise program as needed, and provide support and positive reinforcement.

Where does Tonic fit in? "The patients will use the newly developed iPhone app Tonic, with the help of the personal trainer, to define, monitor, and maintain their exercise," explains Dr. Luke-Zeitoun. "From our experience, and based on prior research, patients' adherence to exercise was significantly influenced by frequent contact with and reminders from their personal trainers. We therefore think that Tonic has the potential to play a crucial role in helping patients adhere to their exercise regimens in the long term, even after termination of their 6-month training program."

The children's health will be evaluated several times over a 12-month period. The researchers will look at how well the kids are breathing and their lung function, their strength, and their overall quality of life. These measures will be compared with a control group (similar children who won't get exercise coaching and aren't using Tonic) to evaluate the effectiveness of INSTEP, or individualized non-supervised training exercise program. "If INSTEP is successful, this could be used as a method to improve the overall health and well-being of these children," says Dr. Luke-Zeitoun.

We'll report back when the study is done to let you know how the kids are doing.

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