Physical inactivity is associated with poor outcomes in COPD, and as a result, interventions to improve physical activity (PA) are a current research focus. However, many trials have been small and inconclusive.
The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to study the effects of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) targeting PA in COPD.
Databases (Physiotherapy Evidence Database [PEDro], Embase, MEDLINE, CINAHL and the Cochrane Central Register for Controlled Trials) were searched using the following keywords: “COPD”, “intervention” and “physical activity” from inception to May 20, 2016; published RCTs that aimed to increase PA in individuals with COPD were included. The PEDro scale was used to rate study quality. Standardized mean differences (effect sizes, ESs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were determined. Effects of included interventions were also measured according to the minimal important difference (MID) in daily steps for COPD (599 daily steps).
A total of 37 RCTs with 4,314 participants (mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV 1) % predicted 50.5 [SD=10.4]) were identified. Interventions including exercise training (ET; n=3 studies, 103 participants) significantly increased PA levels in COPD compared to standard care (ES [95% CI]; 0.84 [0.44–1.25]). The addition of activity counseling to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR; n=4 studies, 140 participants) showed important effects on PA levels compared to PR alone (0.47 [0.02–0.92]), achieving significant increases that exceeded the MID for daily steps in COPD (mean difference [95% CI], 1,452 daily steps [549–2,356]). Reporting of methodological quality was poor in most included RCTs.