Chronic Disease Prevention and Physical Activity Lab
The Chronic Disease Prevention and Physical Activity Lab seeks to understand how lifestyle factors shape our health. We study factors such as physical activity, sedentary behaviour patterns and frailty status to help develop tools to improve patient health and well-being.
Areas of focus
Our lab works with people with elevated health risk profiles, those about to undergo heart surgery and people who have some level of frailty. We aim to identify new ways to detect early signs of poor health and develop ways for people to restore their well-being.
We use a variety of tools to assess participant health. Actical accelerometers characterize physical activity, sedentary and sleep behavior patterns, while physical fitness tests examine muscle strength, aerobic fitness and frailty status. Biomedical approaches are used to examine blood, stool and muscle samples for biomarkers and determine if these markers are associated with disease states, and cardiovascular risk profiles are assessed through blood pressure measurements.
Current research projects
Up to 50 per cent of women at risk of experiencing a heart attack are not aware of their poor cardiovascular health. The Women’s Advanced Risk Assessment Manitoba Study (WARM Hearts) tests new tools to help identify heart problems earlier, which may someday allow for the early detection of cardiovascular risks and interventions to help restore health.
PROTECT-CS clinical trial
Due to our aging population, 50 per cent of patients currently undergoing heart surgery are deemed to be frail, often leading to long recovery times, greater loss of independence and worse quality of life after surgery. The PROTECT-CS trial aims to determine if taking muscle-building nutrition supplements before heart surgery can enhance the recovery of older adults.
Evaluation of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Quality Indicators in Manitoba
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Canada. Working together with the Cardiac Rehabilitation Manitoba (CRM), a group comprised of cardiac rehabilitation program managers, physicians and stakeholders, this study seeks to evaluate the quality of cardiac rehabilitation in Manitoba and identify potential areas for improvement.
Enhancing recovery after cardiac surgery by engaging patients in research development
When a patient requires elective cardiac surgery, they are placed on a waiting list for up to 4 months. Patients who adopt healthier lifestyles during this time are more likely to recover well after surgery than patients who do not. This study is aimed at identifying barriers to patients enhancing their health while awaiting surgery in the hopes of developing strategies to aid patient recovery.
Nicole joined Dr. Duhamel’s research group as a fieldwork student in 2017. The research she will complete during her masters will focus on the association between heart rate variability and different frailty levels.
“The support of both Dr. Duhamel and past and present students has helped me develop as a student, a researcher and as a professional. I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different studies and participants with a range of chronic diseases. The experience I have gained throughout my time with the Duhamel lab will help me to pursue a career in chronic disease management.”
Nicole was selected to provide an introductory presentation during the faculties research seminar series. This presentation was on exercise rehabilitation for adults with frailty.
Nolan is a masters student studying frailty and fasting blood glucose implications in the Duhamel Lab at the University of Manitoba. Nolan’s goal is to follow his exercise prescription background, awareness of mental health conditions, and passion for people to help people manage their health and wellness.
“Working in the Duhamel lab has granted me opportunities to become a better academic and professional with extracurricular learning opportunities. For instance, I have worked with a local collaborative care clinic to bring evidence based exercise care to deserving patients in a frontline care setting.”
Nolan is CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologist, and Communications Director on CSEP Student Committee.
Alexandra Rose currently working towards her Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Certified Exercise Physiologist designation (CSEP-CEP). She hopes to combine her knowledge as a researcher and CEP to promote physical activity as a tool to prevent future risk for chronic diseases, like CVD.
“I have enjoyed being a part of Dr. Todd Duhamel's lab group. The atmosphere is welcoming and facilitates a positive learning experience. I have had opportunities to learn and grow as a researcher.”
Alex has published two academic articles and will be publishing three more by Jan. 2020. She TA's at both the University of Manitoba and Winnipeg, where she hopes she can pass on her knowledge to current undergraduate students.
Chris joined Dr. Duhamel’s research group as an undergraduate student and hopes to complete a PhD and pursue a career in research. Chris’s current research focuses on the changes that occur to a protein in the heart called SERCA2a during heart disease and diabetes.
“Working in the Duhamel Lab has helped me to develop as a researcher by exposing me to basic and clinical research. I have facilitated exercise programs for people with chronic disease, conducted research appointments with study participants, collected and processed different types of biological samples, worked with animal models of disease, and learned molecular and biochemical experimental techniques.”
Chris has excelled as a researcher and is the recipient of the Undergraduate Research Award, University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, and Manitoba Graduate Scholarship.
Daniel completed his Bachelors in physical education at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and joined the Chronic Disease Prevention and Physical Activity Lab in hopes of promoting health and well-being for people with or at risk for chronic diseases through exercise.
“The confidence Dr. Duhamel and his team put in my work makes me feel valued and motivates me to always do my best. It has been my dream to come to Canada to work and study. I can say that the opportunity Dr. Duhamel provided to me was literally life-changing, as I’ve been able to grow not just professionally but as a human being.”
Daniel has thrived in his studies, achieving awards such as the U of M Graduate Fellowship Award, FKRM Graduate Scholarship Award, and the Scientific Initiation Scholarship.
Liam is an aspiring med student who found his passion for preventative healthcare through his studies in Kinesiology.
“Working with researchers and participants all coming together to make life better for others gave me a new perspective on healthcare and opened up new doors in research and medicine.”
Liam has been the recipient of the Undergraduate Research Award and has been selected for a placement in the competitive Rural Health Mentorship Program.
Coming from a small rural town from Northern Manitoba, Curtis has come to the University of Manitoba to pursue my interests in the faculty of kinesiology. Upon graduating with his degree in kinesiology in June 2020, Curtis plans on applying to medical school in hopes to become a physician.
“Working in research has given me an appreciation for the never-ending curiosity and exploration for knowledge. I have had the privilege to work with an amazing team and my experience here will be something that motivates me for many years to come”