In patients with COPD, severe physical inactivity (SPI, which is defined as total daily energy expenditure/resting energy expenditure; physical activity level [PAL] ratio, <1.4) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) increases physical capacity in COPD, but the impact on SPI is unknown. In this study, we aimed at elucidating the prevalence of SPI in COPD patients attending standard PR, the impact of PR on SPI prevalence, and the relationship between SPI and time spent in moderate physical activity thus whether American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations are clinically useful in excluding SPI in COPD.
This is a prospective non-interventional pilot study on patients with COPD completing PR, consenting to wear an accelerometer (Sensewear © Armband) for a week before and after completing PR to assess changes in energy expenditure, time spent in physical activity, and number of daily steps. Low level of daily physical activity was not an inclusion criterion.
In total, 57 patients completed the study and 31 (54%) had SPI at baseline. In patients with SPI, baseline median FEV 1 was 48 (range, 28–86) % of predicted and GOLD B, n=11 (35%)/GOLD D, n=20 (65%). Surprisingly, 31 of SPI patients (97%) spent ≥150 minutes/week in moderate physical activity. After rehabilitation, 24 (78%) did not change activity level and were persistently SPI. We observed no differences at baseline between patient responding (n=7) vs not responding (n=24) to PR. Responders increased number of daily steps and time spent in lighter but not moderate physical activity during rehabilitation.
In this pilot study, SPI was prevalent, and PR had limited impact. Contraintui-tively, most patients with SPI complied with general recommendations of weekly hours spent in moderate physical activity. Our study highlights that increasing time spent in light activity rather than improving time spent in moderate activity is important in COPD patients with chronic dyspnea.