Personal training sessions for youngsters with debilitating disease help keep them out of hospital

Declan West and personal trainer, Harry Brister. Photo: NNUH

Declan West and personal trainer, Harry Brister. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

A 12-year-old boy from Norwich with a debilitating disease has spent less time in hospital thanks to an exercise regime.

Declan West was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder which affects the lungs but also other organs, when he was only three weeks old.

It means his lungs, digestive system, and other organs have a build-up of thick, sticky mucus, causing a wide range of challenging symptoms affecting the entire body.

But since taking part in personal training sessions, Declan has improved his lung function and fitness, meaning the amount of time he has spent in hospital on antibiotics has plummeted.

Declan has been going along to the hour-long sessions at Nuffield Health Gym in Norwich for six months, as part of a programme organised by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). The hospital is one of just four trusts in England to be able to offer the treatment to children and teenagers with cystic fibrosis.

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Declan, who lives in Costessey, said: 'Since my personal training sessions have started, my level of fitness has massively improved and I know this has been a big factor in why I haven't had to spend as much time in hospital. The sessions are good fun and it's great to learn lots of different exercises from the personal trainers.'

A typical session includes a ten-minute warm up on the treadmill followed by a series of exercises tailored to Declan's needs including box jumps and medicine ball squats.

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Dr Caroline Kavanagh, clinical lead for the paediatric cystic fibrosis service at NNUH, said: 'We're very privileged to be working with Nuffield Health to offer this programme, and since its launch earlier this year, our patients and their families have really benefited from it. Research has proved that exercise can be as effective as taking some conventional medicine, prevents deterioration of the disease and has a huge impact on the life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis.'

Dr David Booth, chief of division for women's and children's division at NNUH, added: 'It's important to promote what benefits exercise has for those living with cystic fibrosis and I want to thank our team involved in securing this programme for our patients and their families.'

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