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      The impact of pulmonary rehabilitation on severe physical inactivity in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a pilot study

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          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.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Pulmonary rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

          Widespread application of pulmonary rehabilitation (also known as respiratory rehabilitation) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should be preceded by demonstrable improvements in function (health-related quality of life, functional and maximal exercise capacity) attributable to the programmes. This review updates the review reported in 2006.
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            Characteristics of physical activities in daily life in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            Quantification of physical activities in daily life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has increasing clinical interest. However, detailed comparison with healthy subjects is not available. Furthermore, it is unknown whether time spent actively during daily life is related to lung function, muscle force, or maximal and functional exercise capacity. We assessed physical activities and movement intensity with the DynaPort activity monitor in 50 patients (age 64 +/- 7 years; FEV1 43 +/- 18% predicted) and 25 healthy elderly individuals (age 66 +/- 5 years). Patients showed lower walking time (44 +/- 26 vs. 81 +/- 26 minutes/day), standing time (191 +/- 99 vs. 295 +/- 109 minutes/day), and movement intensity during walking (1.8 +/- 0.3 vs. 2.4 +/- 0.5 m/second2; p < 0.0001 for all), as well as higher sitting time (374 +/- 139 vs. 306 +/- 108 minutes/day; p = 0.04) and lying time (87 +/- 97 vs. 29 +/- 33 minutes/day; p = 0.004). Walking time was highly correlated with the 6-minute walking test (r = 0.76, p < 0.0001) and more modestly to maximal exercise capacity, lung function, and muscle force (0.28 < r < 0.64, p < 0.05). Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are markedly inactive in daily life. Functional exercise capacity is the strongest correlate of physical activities in daily life.
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              American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults.

              ACSM Position Stand on The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness, and Flexibility in Adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 30, No. 6, pp. 975-991, 1998. The combination of frequency, intensity, and duration of chronic exercise has been found to be effective for producing a training effect. The interaction of these factors provide the overload stimulus. In general, the lower the stimulus the lower the training effect, and the greater the stimulus the greater the effect. As a result of specificity of training and the need for maintaining muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility of the major muscle groups, a well-rounded training program including aerobic and resistance training, and flexibility exercises is recommended. Although age in itself is not a limiting factor to exercise training, a more gradual approach in applying the prescription at older ages seems prudent. It has also been shown that aerobic endurance training of fewer than 2 d.wk-1, at less than 40-50% of VO2R, and for less than 10 min-1 is generally not a sufficient stimulus for developing and maintaining fitness in healthy adults. Even so, many health benefits from physical activity can be achieved at lower intensities of exercise if frequency and duration of training are increased appropriately. In this regard, physical activity can be accumulated through the day in shorter bouts of 10-min durations. In the interpretation of this position stand, it must be recognized that the recommendations should be used in the context of participant's needs, goals, and initial abilities. In this regard, a sliding scale as to the amount of time allotted and intensity of effort should be carefully gauged for the cardiorespiratory, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility components of the program. An appropriate warm-up and cool-down period, which would include flexibility exercises, is also recommended. The important factor is to design a program for the individual to provide the proper amount of physical activity to attain maximal benefit at the lowest risk. Emphasis should be placed on factors that result in permanent lifestyle change and encourage a lifetime of physical activity.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                12 October 2018
                : 13
                : 3359-3365
                [1 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Naestved Hospital, Naestved, Denmark, mimithyregod@
                [2 ]Institute for Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, mimithyregod@
                [3 ]Department of Respiratory Diseases and Allergy, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Mimi Thyregod, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Naestved Hospital, Ringstedgade 61, Naestved 4700, Denmark, Tel +45 29 82 81 97, Email mimithyregod@
                © 2018 Thyregod et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                sensewear©, severe physical inactivity, pulmonary rehabilitation, copd


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