PERL is pursuing the following areas of research
Creating a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms by which cardiopulmonary and vascular adaptations to exercise occur in the child and adolescent.
Generating a detailed appreciation of the impact sedentary behaviour has upon cardiopulmonary and vascular function in childhood.
High altitude physiology
Develop knowledge of the impact of high altitude on cardiopulmonary and cerebrovascular responses at rest and during exercise in children living permanently at high altitude and those living at low altitude.
Prof Ali McManus developed her interest and excitement in pediatric exercise physiology while completing her doctorate at the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter U.K. She held a faculty position at the University of Hong Kong for 18 years, before joining the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan. Prof McManus and her team use various experimental conditions such as prolonged sitting and hypoxia to alter the cardiopulmonary and cerebrovascular responses to exercise and use this information to decipher the mechanisms that underlie child-adult differences. She has secured significant funding (NSERC, CIHR, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Stober Foundation) to support and encourage these research endeavors. As current Editor-in-Chief of Pediatric Exercise Science, she is dedicated to actively contributing to the field.
Our Studies & EXPEDITIONS
Kids with Altitude
Status: Writing up & knowledge sharing
In the summer of 2019, we convinced 10 Kelowna children to travel with their parents to the high altitude White Mount Research Station in California. We brought together an international team from Canada, the UK and the USA in a unique study of child-adult differences in the physiological responses to acute and prolonged high altitude exposure.
The White Mountain Research Center was founded in 1950 and comprises two stations – Crooked Creek at 3300m and the Barcroft station at 3811m. It has been the site of many studies that have formed much of our understanding of the physiology of acclimatization in adults. Kids With Altitude was the first time in the history of the Barcroft Research Station that a study into the physiology of acclimatization in children has been conducted. No previous studies have reported or tracked the integrative physiological responses to high altitude acclimatization, combining multiple cerebrovascular, cardiac, cardiopulmonary and skeletal muscle measures at rest and during exercise. This was one of the most intense programs of testing that PERL has ever conducted with children, but also one of the most exciting research studies undertaken.
PERL had the unique opportunity to work with Sherpa children and adolescents who live in the Khumbu valley, the valley below Chomolungma, or Mount Everest in Nepal in October 2016. This undertaking was the first large scale research expedition for PERL, and Daniela Nowak-Fluck, Laura Morris, Mathew Rieger and Audrey Kirby joined Ali McManus on the expedition. Our work with the Sherpa Kids was a part of a much larger international research expedition led by the late Dr. Chris Willie and Prof. Phil Ainslie from the Centre for Heart, Lung, and Vascular Health. After flying into Kathmandu and then onto Lukla airport in the Khumbu Valley, the PERL team trekked to Thame and then to Kunde, two Sherpa villages where we set up our research lab. Participants came from villages all across the region – sometimes a 3-hour walk away! This investigation has provided novel insight into the physiological adaptations of Sherpa children who are native high altitude dwellers, both at rest and during exercise, specifically allowing us to (i) determine resting cerebral blood flow and ventilation in Sherpa children living at high altitude and (ii) characterize the effects of progressive exercise to exhaustion on ventilation and cerebral blood flow velocity in Sherpa children at high altitude.
This is a study for newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic adults that we are running jointly with Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. The goal of MOTIVATE T2D is to identify effective methods to help people with T2D increase and maintain their everyday physical activity levels, and start exercising regularly to benefit their physical and mental health.
Status: Writing up & knowledge sharing
The child’s brain is large – it’s about 80% of adult size by 4 years of age and has a huge metabolic appetite – brain development is an energy expensive process! During childhood there is a continuous increase in the brain’s use of glucose and this is matched by cerebral high blood flow. Although we know a great deal about the regulation of brain blood flow in adults, much less is known about how these mechanisms mature in healthy children and how other environmental challenges like exercise or excessive sedentary behavior affect brain blood flow. We have been conducted a series of studies, that are trying to build our understanding of how brain blood flow is regulated in the child, the effect a prolonged period of sitting has on cerebrovascular function in children, and how exercise breaks might protect against sitting-induced changes to brain blood flow and blood flow regulation.