Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programs are beneficial to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lower-extremity training is considered a fundamental component of PR. Nevertheless, the isolated effects of each PR component are not well established.
Objective: We aimed to evaluate the effects of a cycle ergometry exercise protocol as the only intervention in a group of COPD patients, and to compare these results with a control group.
Methods: 25 moderate-to-severe COPD patients were evaluated regarding pulmonary function, respiratory muscle strength, exercise capacity, quality of life and body composition. Patients were allocated to one of two groups: (a) the trained group (TG; n = 13; 6 men) was submitted to a protocol of 24 exercise sessions on a cycle ergometer, with training intensity initially set at a heart rate (HR) close to 80% of maximal HR achieved in a maximal test, and load increase based on dyspnea scores, and (b) the control group (CG; n = 12; 6 men) with no intervention during the protocol period.
Results: TG showed within-group significant improvements in endurance cycling time, 6-min walking distance test, maximal inspiratory pressure and in the domain 'dyspnea' related to quality of life. Despite the within-group changes, no between-group significant differences were observed.
Conclusion: In COPD patients, the results of isolated low-to-moderate intensity cycle ergometer training are not comparable to effects of multimodality and high-intensity training programs.