A UNIQUE research project looking into lung function as we age is being conducted by Southern Cross University.
The reason behind the study is that there is thought to be a link between chest wall stiffness and lung function in middle age.
Researchers from SCU and Macquarie University are investigating a new way to prevent age-related declining lung function.
They are seeking to recruit 300 healthy non-smokers between the ages of 50 and 65 to be part of the study.
The trial, known as the Manual therapy, Exercise and Lung function Trial (MELT), started Lismore on November 7.
Associate Professor at the School of Health and Human Sciences, Sandra Grace, said it was an important trial because it focused on preventive medicine.
"We are actually dealing with healthy individuals between 50-65 years of age," Professor Grace said.
"The reason we are doing that is that we know that as we age our chest wall and our thoracic spine becomes more stiff and we know that that stiffness influences the way our lungs function.
"Manual therapy has been shown to reduce stiffness in the spine and make the chest more flexible.
"The main aim of this study is to investigate whether increasing chest wall flexibility through manual therapy can lead to improvements in lung function.
"We are recruiting 300 patrons to make this a really strong, high quality trial and then we will publish that in a high impact journal.
"But that's not all we will do - we will also present the findings at conferences, and not only for the medical and health community but also for the public."
Participation in the trial involves eight visits over a nine-week period, with all sessions provided free of charge.
All participants will receive six exercise sessions, while two-thirds of the participants will also receive six osteopathic treatments.
Results from previous studies have shown this approach is capable of increasing lung function over the medium term in people with chronic respiratory disease.
The researchers believe the same approach may also be capable of improving lung function in people who do not have respiratory disease.
Criteria for participation in the trial are participants need to be 50 to 65 years of age, healthy, with no history of respiratory disease, currently non-smoking (for preceding six months), and able to walk unaided and unassisted.
If you would like further information about the trial or would like to enrol, email MELTresearch@scu.edu.au or phone 0468 920 462.