Objectives: To have a group of COPD patients undergo a simple program of home-based exercise training, using the shuttle walking test (SWT) to standardize the intensity of training.
Methods: Sixty patients participated, randomly distributed into two groups (rehabilitation and control) of 30 patients each. The following evaluations were carried out at baseline and at 12 weeks: (1) pulmonary function studies; (2) SWT; (3) submaximal intensity resistance test; (4) cycle ergometer test; (5) quality of life; and (6) dyspnea. The rehabilitation group underwent a lower-extremity training program. Walking was selected as the type of exercise. The intensity of training was set at 70% of the maximum speed attained on the SWT. Divided sessions were held, lasting 1 h, 6 days/wk, at home, with a checkup every 2 weeks. The duration of the program was 12 weeks.
Results: The following patients completed the study: 20 patients (66.6%) from the rehabilitation group (mean [+/- SD]) age, 64.3 +/- 8.3 years; mean FEV(1), 41.7 +/- 15.6% of predicted); and 17 patients (56.6%) from the control group (mean age, 63.1 +/- 6.9 years; mean FEV(1), 40 +/- 16.4% of predicted). We found no changes in pulmonary function or effort parameters (SWT or cycle ergometer) in the rehabilitation group at 12 weeks. A twofold increase (1,274 +/- 980 to 2,651 +/- 2,056 m; p < 0.001) was achieved in the submaximal intensity resistance test, with less dyspnea at the conclusion of the test (p = 0.05). Significant improvement also was achieved in basal dyspnea and, both statistically and clinically, in the quality of life. Significant changes were not achieved in the control group patients.
Conclusions: A simple home-based program of exercise training achieved improvement in exercise tolerance, posteffort dyspnea, basal dyspnea, and quality of life in COPD patients.