Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) can improve the quality of life for many of our patients with COPD and other types of lung disease. There have been many opinions about what constitutes the level of activity needed to maximally help patients achieve certain goals. One of the goals PR looks to accomplish is a reduction in mortality risk for patients at every level of COPD.
An extensive study funded by two agencies, the National Institute for Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council of the UK, has shed some light on what and how much activity is needed to reduce the mortality risk in COPD patients. Why is this important? When I am speaking with patients who have COPD about their need for physical activity (PA) they often tell me that they are very active in the home. Home activity is difficult to measure and reproduce regularly.
The total dose and type-specific activity to get mortality benefit is not known. Time and space do not permit a detailed discussion of the methods and findings of this study. However, a summary of the findings is as follows: There is a relationship between the amount and type of activity needed to, not only improve quality of life, but to reduce mortality risk. Home PA was difficult to measure accurately but even low levels of regular activity, such as walking and certain exercises, can show benefit. Consider a pulmonary rehabilitation program for yourself or a family member. Patients can contact the Lung Disease Center for information on a local program.