Physical exercise reduces the risk of hospitalisation for patients with COPD


According to a recent study carried out on patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which affects some 230 million people worldwide, physical exercise can improve the situation of their disease and prevent them from being hospitalised.

What is COPD?

It is one of the most common diseases that affects our lungs, and is manifested through breathing difficulties.

There are 2 types of COPD:

  • Chronic Bronchitis is caused by the presence of mucus and cough, which usually lasts for long periods
  • Emphysema destroys the elastic fibres in the lungs

In many cases, we can find COPD patients who suffer with both types of the disease.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Cough with occasional phlegm
  • Presence of multiple respiratory infections
  • Dyspnoea (difficulty breathing normally)
  • Whistling during breathing (wheezing)

Some data supporting physical exercise in COPD patients

The aforementioned study was developed by a team of researchers from the Galdakao-Usansolo hospital in Spain, which was subsequently published by Respirology Journal and counted on the participation of a total of 543 COPD patients.

In order to find out the physical activity level of patients, researchers studied the daily walking distance for at least three days per week.

The study with this group of patients lasted for 24 months. After this period elapsed, there were a higher number of hospitalisations in those who maintained a low level of activity from the beginning or who reduced the intensity on their exercise.

By contrast, patients who maintained or increased their physical activity – for example, walking at least 3 to 6 km a day – presented a significantly lower number of hospital admissions throughout the study.

According to Dr. Christopher Stephen (Spanish researcher), COPD patients tend to be less apt to exercise than healthy people. However, physical exercise practiced regularly has been shown to reduce the risk of patients being hospitalised, and even the risk of death in some cases.

As a case in point, the mere act of walking just two hours per week may lower the already mentioned risk of hospitalisation for patients with COPD.

According to various studies, there are other beneficial exercises for COPD patients

According to another recent article published in the European Respiratory Journal, martial arts like Tai Chi can also be helpful for those with COPD. Other sources point to the benefits of another restful exercise (yoga), to the extent that it facilitates the functionality of the lungs and produces good results when it comes to improving the patients’ breathing.

At Best Doctors we recommend the healthy habit of exercise – always under medical supervision – and adapted to the age, circumstances and possible conditions of each patient. First and foremost, we must take an active part in all matters concerning our health.

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