Greater Activity Levels in COPD If Loved Ones Are Active
Background: Patients with COPD are less active compared with healthy subjects. This may be due to symptoms of
breathlessness and fatigue. Adopting a healthy lifestyle with more physical activity is one of the main goals of a COPD management plan. Family members and loved ones may play an important role in helping patients with COPD achieve greater activity levels.
Study: Mr. Mesquita, a physical therapist, and colleagues at the Department of Respiratory Medicine in Maastrict, the Netherlands, studied light and moderate to vigorous physical activity in 125 patients with COPD and a loved one over 5 days. The findings were published in the May 2017 issue of the journal CHEST, volume 151, pages 1028-1038.
Man pedaling stationary cycle being supervised by daughter
Results: Patients with COPD spent more sedentary time (being inactive) than their loved ones. However, those patients with an active loved one spent more time in moderate to vigorous activities than did those with an inactive loved one after controlling for age, body mass, and severity of COPD.
Conclusions: The authors concluded that in general patients with COPD are less active than their loved one despite similar exercise motivation. Those with an active loved one have greater activity levels.
My Comments: It is very common for those with COPD to reduce activities to avoid the unpleasant feeling of breathing difficulty or shortness or breath. This can lead to a downward spiral as shown below.
Woman with COPD walking with grandson
Getting started in a pulmonary rehabilitation program is one of the best ways to reverse this downward spiral. Studies clearly show that regular exercise provides greater benefits for those with COPD than any inhaler. I encourage you to be as active as possible.
Downward Cycle of Breathing Difficulty Leading to Reduced Physical Activity and Deconditioning (“out of shape”). Taken from page 70 of COPD: Answers to Your Questions (with permission).