Physical activity levels early after lung transplantation

Phys Ther. 2015 Apr;95(4):517-25. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20140173. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Background: Little is known of the early changes in physical activity after lung transplantation.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were: (1) to describe physical activity levels in patients up to 6 months following lung transplantation and (2) to explore predictors of the change in physical activity in that population.

Design: This was a prospective cohort study.

Methods: Physical activity (daily steps and time spent in moderate-intensity activity) was measured using an accelerometer before and after transplantation (at hospital discharge, 3 months, and 6 months). Additional functional measurements included submaximal exercise capacity (measured with the 6-Minute Walk Test), quadriceps muscle torque, and health-related quality of life (measured with the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey 36 [SF-36] and the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire).

Results: Thirty-six lung transplant recipients (18 men, 18 women; mean age=49 years, SD=14) completed posttransplant measurements. Before transplant, daily steps were less than a third of the general population. By 3 months posttransplant, the largest improvement in physical activity had occurred, and level of daily steps reached 55% of the general population. The change in daily steps (pretransplant to 3 months posttransplant) was inversely correlated with pretransplant 6-minute walk distance (r=-.48, P=.007), daily steps (r=-.36, P=.05), and SF-36 physical functioning (SF-36 PF) score (r=-.59, P=.0005). The SF-36 PF was a significant predictor of the change in physical activity, accounting for 35% of the variation in change in daily steps.

Limitations: Only individuals who were ambulatory prior to transplant and discharged from the hospital in less than 3 months were included in the study.

Conclusions: Physical activity levels improve following lung transplantation, particularly in individuals with low self-reported physical functioning. However, the majority of lung transplant recipients remain sedentary between 3 to 6 months following transplant. The role of exercise training, education, and counseling in further improving physical activity levels in lung transplant recipients should be further explored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation* / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life