About the SRC

Youth Activity Unlimited is one of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s Strategic Research Centres (SRC). SRCs were developed to “bring together scientists from across the UK and beyond, to work on ground breaking research to benefit people with CF.” Researchers at the Universities of Exeter, Swansea, LaTrobe, UCL, and Toronto have joined together to develop resources to help doctors and their support teams prescribe exercise to young people with CF.

Why is exercise an important topic within Cystic Fibrosis research?

Physical activity has important clinical benefits for people with Cystic Fibrosis. It improves fitness levels of the heart and lungs, making the heart muscle stronger and allowing it to pump more blood to the lungs. This means more blood, and oxygen, can get to muscles. Cystic Fibrosis can negatively affect fitness levels of the heart and lungs, but research has shown that increasing physical activity can help to increase these levels and improve the heart and lung health of people living with Cystic Fibrosis. Physical activity is also good for psychological well-being such as self-esteem and confidence. Many healthcare professionals and organizations recommend exercise as part of Cystic Fibrosis management, but there aren’t many guidelines out there that give advice on what exercise is best, how much to do and how often.

What’s the aim of the research?

The researchers are hoping to:

  1. Understand the physical activity patterns of young people with Cystic Fibrosis. What are the more common types of activity? How often is it happening, and how intense is the activity?
  2. Understand some of the challenges and barriers to doing exercise. Physical health can be a big challenge, but what about other aspects, such as having the time to do exercise alongside treatments? Being able to exercise with friends? Worried parents?
  3. Develop resources for young people, parents, teachers and specialists around exercise, to help them understand and educate others on how to be physically active, in a safe way.

What are the researchers trying to achieve?

Craig Williams, Professor of Paediatric Physiology and Health at the University of Exeter, will be leading the study alongside teams in the UK, Canada and Australia. Professor Williams has been studying exercise in people with Cystic Fibrosis for over a decade, and through this research would like to help improve the health of young people with Cystic Fibrosis by giving healthcare professionals the ability to prescribe personalised exercise plans.

“We’d like to use the results of the study to help healthcare professionals prescribe exercise to people with Cystic Fibrosis, with an understanding of what exercise is best for that person and is safe and effective, as it is also possible to do too much. It’s not one-size-fits-all – an individual approach means you could exercise to your own strengths and fit it around your treatment and social schedule.”

The team would like to know what you think about the Cystic Fibrosis and exercise study.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to starting to exercise if you have Cystic Fibrosis? What would you like to see being investigated about exercise, sport and activity in Cystic Fibrosis?

Recruitment for the study will start in the new year. If you’re interested taking part or finding out more, please contact Professor Craig Williams Craig.Williams@exeter.ac.uk or Dr Sarah Denford Sarah.Denford@exeter.ac.uk.