Socio-environmental correlates of physical activity in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Thorax. 2017 Sep;72(9):796-802. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-209209. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


Background: Study of the causes of the reduced levels of physical activity in patients with COPD has been scarce and limited to biological factors.

Aim: To assess the relationship between novel socio-environmental factors, namely dog walking, grandparenting, neighbourhood deprivation, residential surrounding greenness and residential proximity to green or blue spaces, and amount and intensity of physical activity in COPD patients.

Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited 410 COPD patients from five Catalan municipalities. Dog walking and grandparenting were assessed by questionnaire. Neighbourhood deprivation was assessed using the census Urban Vulnerability Index, residential surrounding greenness by the satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, and residential proximity to green or blue spaces as living within 300 m of such a space. Physical activity was measured during 1 week by accelerometer to assess time spent on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vector magnitude units (VMU) per minute.

Findings: Patients were 85% male, had a mean (SD) age of 69 (9) years, and post-bronchodilator FEV1 of 56 (17) %pred. After adjusting for age, sex, socio-economic status, dyspnoea, exercise capacity and anxiety in a linear regression model, both dog walking and grandparenting were significantly associated with an increase both in time in MVPA (18 min/day (p<0.01) and 9 min/day (p<0.05), respectively) and in physical activity intensity (76 VMU/min (p=0.05) and 59 VMUs/min (p<0.05), respectively). Neighbourhood deprivation, surrounding greenness and proximity to green or blue spaces were not associated with physical activity.

Conclusions: Dog walking and grandparenting are associated with a higher amount and intensity of physical activity in COPD patients.

Trial registration number: Pre-results, NCT01897298.

Keywords: COPD epidemiology; Exercise.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Care
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Grandparents
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Poverty Areas
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Environment*
  • Spain
  • Walking / physiology

Associated data