Background: Acute exacerbations (AEs) have a negative impact on various aspects of the progression of COPD, but objective and detailed data on the impact of hospitalizations for an AE on physical activity are not available. Objective and measurements: We aimed to investigate physical activity using an activity monitor (DynaPort; McRoberts; the Hague, the Netherlands), pulmonary function, muscle force, 6-min walking distance, and arterial blood gas levels in 17 patients (mean age, 69 +/- 9 years [+/- SD]; body mass index, 24 +/- 5 kg/m(2)) at the beginning and end of a hospitalization period for an AE and 1 month after discharge.
Results: Time spent on weight-bearing activities (walking and standing) was markedly low both at day 2 and day 7 of hospitalization (median, 7%; interquartile range [IQR], 3 to 18% of the time during the day; and median, 9%; IQR, 7 to 21%, respectively) and 1 month after discharge (median, 19% [IQR, 10 to 34%]; Friedman test, p = 0.13). Time spent on weight-bearing activities was positively correlated to quadriceps force at the end of the hospitalization period (r = 0.47; p = 0.048). Patients with hospitalization for an AE in the previous year had an even lower activity level when compared to those without a recent hospitalization. In addition, patients with a lower activity level at 1 month after discharge were more likely to be readmitted in the following year.
Conclusions: Patients with COPD are markedly inactive during and after hospitalization for an AE. Efforts to enhance physical activity should be among the aims of the disease management during and following the AE periods.