Level of daily physical activity in individuals with COPD compared with healthy controls

Respir Res. 2011 Mar 22;12(1):33. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-12-33.


Background: Persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), performing some level of regular physical activity, have a lower risk of both COPD-related hospital admissions and mortality. COPD patients of all stages seem to benefit from exercise training programs, thereby improving with respect to both exercise tolerance and symptoms of dyspnea and fatigue. Physical inactivity, which becomes more severe with increasing age, is a point of concern in healthy older adults. COPD might worsen this scenario, but it is unclear to what degree. This literature review aims to present the extent of the impact of COPD on objectively-measured daily physical activity (DPA). The focus is on the extent of the impact that COPD has on duration, intensity, and counts of DPA, as well as whether the severity of the disease has an additional influence on DPA.

Results: A literature review was performed in the databases PubMed [MEDLINE], Picarta, PEDRO, ISI Web of Knowledge and Google scholar. After screening, 11 studies were identified as being relevant for comparison between COPD patients and healthy controls with respect to duration, intensity, and counts of DPA. Four more studies were found to be relevant to address the subject of the influence the severity of the disease may have on DPA. The average percentage of DPA of COPD patients vs. healthy control subjects for duration was 57%, for intensity 75%, and for activity counts 56%. Correlations of DPA and severity of the disease were low and/or not significant.

Conclusions: From the results of this review, it appears that patients with COPD have a significantly reduced duration, intensity, and counts of DPA when compared to healthy control subjects. The intensity of DPA seems to be less affected by COPD than duration and counts. Judging from the results, it seems that severity of COPD is not strongly correlated with level of DPA. Future research should focus in more detail on the relation between COPD and duration, intensity, and counts of DPA, as well as the effect of disease severity on DPA, so that these relations become more understandable.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors