In Germany there is a long tradition of rehabilitation and exercise training programs to improve the clinical state and physical function of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. This is particularly true regarding inpatient rehabilitation. Based on experiences gained in other countries, outpatient and home-based programs are currently getting more attention. One of the key components of pulmonary rehabilitation is exercise training which can be expected to exert direct and indirect beneficial effects on physical performance, health-related quality of life and even the progress of the disease. Most of the available experience refers to patients with COPD -- besides those with bronchial asthma. The data available so far suggest that exercise training programs can reduce exacerbation rates and that this effect is achievable by minimal personal assistance. Thus the most important aim of future studies seems to be the development and evaluation of training programs which are efficient but also easy to implement and minimally expensive. Furthermore it needs to be studied whether such programs can be transferred to pulmonary disorders other than obstructive airway diseases.