COPD Symptoms Might Be Eased by Short Walks Taken Throughout the Day

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

Share this article:

Share article via email
COPD and exercise

Physical activity undertaken in small intervals spaced throughout the day can safely and markedly improve the health of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung ailments, researchers in Australia reported, based on a review of COPD studies.

Dr. Kylie Hill from the Curtin University led the research project, which included a survey of studies from Curtin, the University of Western Australia, and The University of Queensland.

The study established that 150 minutes of exercise per week is most effective in reducing cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the development of cancer, and overall mortality regardless of cause. People diagnosed with COPD, a broad category of lung ailments that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic asthma, are likely to have difficulty reaching or maintaining such levels of physical activity, however, due to impaired respiratory and physical abilities.

Still, evidence shows that exercise can greatly improve the physical state and quality of life of COPD patients, reducing their breathlessness, and improving energy levels. Setting feasible exercise goals that incorporate physical activity into everyday tasks is a recommended option for COPD patients.

Researchers suggested that, in addition to trying to perform light exercises everyday, patients should focus on the reduction of sedentary behavior, such as trying to spend less time seating and taking short walks. Such an approach could help reducing the risk of developing heart or vascular disease, they said.

Minor walks taken after sitting for a considerable time without breaks, in fact, were highly recommended. “For people with severe disease, simple goals like this may be a more realistic place to start that trying to go for a 30 minute walk each day,”  Dr. Hill said in a press release.

The research team also suggested that patients who suffer from severe breathlessness should consider a formal program of pulmonary rehabilitation. Such programs usually include supervised walking training and cycle-based exercise, options that may be less aggressive for COPD patients. Functional resistance, which may include step-ups and half squats, is also recommended for patients who need to strengthen their leg muscles.