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21-02-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Physical activity reductions prevalent in moderate COPD


Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) show evidence of significant physical activity reductions even at a moderate disease stage, say researchers.

“Physical activity has been reported to be reduced in severe COPD, [but] studies in moderate COPD are currently scarce,” explain Thierry Troosters (UZ Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium) and colleagues.

They add: “Given the multiple health benefits of appropriate physical activity it is important to study levels of physical activity, particularly in mild to moderate disease.

“Identifying modifiable risk factors in early disease stages is particularly attractive as it offers the possibility to provide interventions with potential long-term benefits.”

The researchers therefore assessed physical activity levels in nine patients with mild (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease [GOLD] stage I), 28 patients with moderate (GOLD stage II), 23 patients with severe (GOLD stage III), and 10 patients with very severe (GOLD stage IV) stable COPD, as well as 30 age-matched healthy controls.

All the participants, who attended a number of centers in Italy, Belgium and the USA, were assigned to wear a multisensor armband device continuously (day and night) for 6–8 days, which recorded number of steps taken per day and time spent in mild and moderate physical activity.

The researchers found that, overall, COPD patients spent less time performing physical activity of mild and moderate intensity than controls, at 80 min/day and 24 min/day compared with 160 min/day and 65 mins/day, respectively.

Time spent performing physical activity of moderate intensity by COPD patients in GOLD stages I, II, III, and IV, was 53%, 41%, 31%, and 22%, respectively, of that spent by controls.

Furthermore, the number of steps taken by COPD patients in GOLD stages I, II, III, and IV reached 87%, 71%, 49%, and 29%, respectively, of the average daily number taken by controls.

These differences were of statistical significance in GOLD stages II–IV, the researchers note in the journal Respiratory Medicine.

Troosters and team conclude: “The present multicenter study confirms the impressive reduction in physical activity in a relatively large group of patients with moderate COPD (GOLD II) as well as those with more severe disease (GOLD stage III and IV) across different centers in different countries.”

They add: “Further research should focus on interventions focused specifically on enhancing physical activity in these patients.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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