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Influence of combined vitamin D supplementation and resistance exercise training on musculoskeletal health in frail older men and women (EXVITD)

   School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

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  Dr CA Greig, Prof J Lord  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This is a four year funded project hosted by the University of Birmingham, School of Sport Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Life & Environmental Sciences and the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (www.birmingham.ac.uk/musculoskeletal-ageing).

Vitamin D is essential not only for bone but also for skeletal muscle health. Vitamin D deficiency is widespread among older adults (reaching 80-90% in residential care) and is associated with an increased risk of falls and fractures as well as skeletal muscle weakness. Attempts to redress this by dietary supplementation have to date been largely unsuccessful. The exception may be in cases of severe deficiency, suggesting that in a supported housing or care home setting, where vitamin D deficiency is common, supplementation may be effective.

Physical activity (resistance exercise training (RET) in particular) is the most potent stimulus for skeletal muscle hypertrophy in both young and older adults. Therefore in order to help older adults maintain good musculoskeletal health, interventions to optimise responsiveness to physical activity are likely to be most effective if they are multimodal, and include resistance exercise. One example of this is to combine resistance exercise training with chronic vitamin D supplementation. Remarkably there is a considerable lack of research examining this, with only one study (400 IU cholecalciferol per day which is considered to be a relatively low dose) reporting an additive effect of training plus nine months of supplementation on the timed-up-and-go functional test but not on other functional measures. We propose an exploratory RCT of RET ± vitamin D supplementation on bone and muscle health and function in frail older adults. We hypothesise that vitamin D3 supplementation (superior to D2 in elevating serum 25-OH vit D) will significantly improve musculoskeletal health compared with RET alone. We will recruit participants from local sheltered housing/ residential care homes who will be randomised to RET (x3 per week) + 800 IU vit D3 (daily) or RET + placebo for six months. The primary outcome is lower limb power output and secondary outcomes will include measures of body composition, muscle function, physical activity and quality of life. A finding that RET and vitamin D supplementation is effective compared with RET alone will support the development of future multimodal interventions to maintain bone and muscle health in old age.

Person Specification:
Applicants should have a strong background in human physiology or physiotherapy. Experience in conducting human physiological or clinical research with older adults is desirable. Experience in conducting exercise classes is desirable but not essential. Prospective candidates are expected to have at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject.

How to apply:
Applications including a CV, names and addresses of two referees and a covering letter should be sent to Alison Fletcher, C/o Research and Knowledge Transfer Office, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT or email [Email Address Removed]

Enquiries can be directed to Dr Carolyn Greig: Email: [Email Address Removed]

The closing date for applications is 19th September 2014 with interviews first week of October 2014

Funding Notes

This Linda Edwards Memorial PhD studentship is funded by the National Osteoporosis Society at £13,726 per annum and tuition fees for 4 years.

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