Let’s Boogie: Can Dance Programs Help People with Lung Disease?

Dr. Brooks holding a plastic lung

Dr. Dina Brooks is researching how dance programs can help people with COPD.

Shortness of breath and fatigue are symptoms of lung disease that limit one’s ability to exercise. Exercise helps reduce the severity of these symptoms, but as many of us know, it can be challenging to stick to an exercise program, or find a physical activity we truly enjoy.

Drs. Dina Brooks and Kara Patterson say the answer may lie in a dance intervention program.

“Dance is a unique form of exercise that is fun, interactive and refreshing compared to using a treadmill or cycle” says Dr. Brooks. Alongside Dr. Patterson, she has started a dance therapy group for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This project, which has recently been funded by the Breathing as One – Boehringer Ingelheim Canada COPD Catalyst Grant from the Canadian Lung Association, will involve two groups of 10 patients that will meet with a dance instructor twice a week for one-hour sessions. This group dance program, titled “Let’s Boogie: Feasibility of a dance intervention in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”, will continue for 8 weeks.

“Our research will explore the effects of dance on physical fitness, quality of life, balance, anxiety and depression” explains Dr. Patterson. “We hypothesize that dancing will improve exercise capacity and balance in patients with COPD, and improve their levels of joy and personal satisfaction”. The study, which will take place at West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto, will inform program design for a future, larger scale randomized controlled trial.