A randomized, controlled trial comparing long-term and short-term exercise in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 2003 Jan-Feb;23(1):60-8. doi: 10.1097/00008483-200301000-00011.


Purpose: To compare the effects of short-term (3 months) and long-term (18 months) involvement in an exercise program on self-reported disability and physical function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: A total of 140 patients with COPD were studied in a randomized, single-blinded clinical trial. Self-reported disability and physical function were assessed using a 21-item questionnaire, a 6-minute walk, timed stair climb, and an overhead task.

Results: At the completion of the trial, participants in the long-term intervention reported 12% less disability than those in the short-term intervention (adjusted mean with 95% confidence interval, 1.53 (1.43-1.63) versus 1.71 (1.61 to 1.81) units, respectively; P=.016), walked 6% farther during 6-minutes (1,815.0 [1,750.4-1,879.6] vs 1,711.5 [1,640.7-1,782.3] feet, respectively), climbed steps 11% faster (11.6 [11.0-12.2] vs 12.9 [12.3-13.5] seconds, respectively), and completed an overhead task 8% faster (46.8 [44.4-49.2] vs 50.4 [47.8-53.0] seconds, respectively) than those in the short-term intervention.

Conclusion: An 18 month exercise program results in greater improvements in self-reported disability and physical function in patients with COPD when compared with a 3-month exercise program. As such, long-term exercise should be recommended for all patients with COPD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Probability
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome