Staying physically active is important for people with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and finding things that
motivate patients to move “is central to tailoring physical activity
recommendations” and planning interventions, the authors write in
Patients with COPD who regularly engage in physical activity, even
of mild to moderate intensity, have a better prognosis, said senior
study author Dr. Judith Garcia-Aymerich of the Barcelona Institute
of Global Health in Spain.
The effect of physical activity is "very consistent . . . regardless
of subjects’ characteristics, geography, and methods to measure
activity,” she said by email.
COPD are lung diseases that make breathing difficult and can cause
wheezing or coughing. The most common forms are emphysema and
chronic bronchitis. They most often occur in smokers and former
smokers. About 30 million Americans currently have COPD, according
to the COPD Foundation.
Garcia-Aymerich and her colleagues analyzed data on 410 COPD
patients living in Barcelona and four other seaside cities in the
Spanish province of Catalonia. Participants answered questions about
their daily activities, marital and working status, health
conditions and how their health affects their quality of life.
Researchers also used participants’ addresses to determine if they
lived within a 15-minute walk of green spaces like parks, or blue
spaces like the ocean, lakes or rivers.
For one week, participants wore activity trackers that allowed
researchers to tally their physical activity and its intensity.
About 85 percent of the participants were men, 69 years old on
average. Nine percent had mild COPD, 53 percent had moderate
disease, 31 percent had severe COPD and 7 percent had very severe
About 12 percent of participants reported walking their dog and
about 38 percent said they cared for their grandchildren. Half of
them lived near green or blue spaces.
The week of activity tracking showed that participants spent an
average of three hours each day being active, about half of that
Participants who walked their dogs were active about 18 minutes more
each day than those who didn’t walk a dog. And people who took care
of their grandkids were active an average of 9 minutes more each day
than those who didn’t.
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Nearness to green or blue space did not seem to influence activity
“Walking the dog and playing with grandchildren relates to better
health, specifically higher levels of physical activity, even in
subjects with moderate-severe respiratory disease,” Garcia-Aymerich
“One challenge about observational studies such as this is that we
don’t know if people with COPD who chose to have (and walk) dogs or
be involved in grandparenting are different in difficult-to-measure
ways from those that don’t do these things,” said Dr. William
Ehlenbach, a pulmonologist with the University of Wisconsin School
of Medicine and Public Health in Madison who wasn’t involved in the
Patients with COPD who are not physically active are much more
likely to develop progressive activity limitation than those with
similar severity of disease who are active, he added.
“Muscle weakness can become a significant problem in patients with
COPD and contributes to disability in these patients. With COPD, the
adage ‘move it or lose it’ really seems to be true,” Ehlenbach told
Reuters Health by email.
He found it interesting that proximity to green space was not
associated with increased physical activity and added that it’s hard
to translate these findings into specific recommendations since some
people don’t have grandkids or like dogs.
“In general, I try to encourage my patients not to let fear or
anxiety associated with shortness of breath prevent them from being
active. I also encourage going for walks outdoors (weather
permitting) or walk in a store or shopping center; even short walks
at a slow pace are beneficial,” he said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2m5miEq Thorax, online March 1, 2017.
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