Exercise and Quality of Life in COPD

  • J. A. Alison
  • Z. J. McKeough
Reference work entry


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious public health problem world-wide. The World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease Project estimated that COPD was the fifth leading cause of death worldwide in 2001 and that it will be the third leading cause of death by 2020. The primary symptoms of COPD are breathlessness and fatigue. These symptoms occur as a consequence of pathophysiological changes which result in ventilatory, cardiovascular and skeletal muscle constraints to activity and exercise. Breathlessness and fatigue reduce  exercise tolerance,  functional activity,  physical activity and health-related quality of life. Objective tools to measure exercise tolerance (e.g., exercise tests) and physical activity (e.g., motion sensors) and subjective tools to measure functional and physical activity (e.g., questionnaires and diaries) are available to assess the impact of COPD on these parameters. Generic and respiratory disease specific questionnaires have also been developed to measure the impact of COPD on health-related quality of life. Moderate to strong  correlations between exercise tolerance (measured by the 6-min walk distance), and functional activity, physical activity and disease specific health-related quality of life have been shown in people with COPD. Such correlations demonstrate the association between reduced exercise tolerance due to COPD and reduced ability to function in everyday life, which impacts on health-related quality of life. Exercise training, as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program, is one of the major effective strategies for management of breathlessness and fatigue in COPD. Such exercise training programs increase exercise tolerance which is reflected in clinical and statistically significant improvements in functional activity and health-related quality of life in people with COPD.


Physical Activity Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exercise Training Exercise Tolerance Minimum Clinically Important Difference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


activities of daily living


chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


chronic respiratory disease questionnaire


endurance shuttle walk test


functional performance inventory


health-related quality of life


 instrumental activities of daily living


incremental shuttle walk test


minimum clinically important difference


 participation activities of daily living


physical activity scale for the elderly


pulmonary functional status and dyspnea questionnaire – modified


pulmonary functional status scale


quality of life


St George’s respiratory questionnaire


Seattle obstructive lung disease questionnaire


six minute walk test


 six minute walk distance

95% CI

ninety-five percent confidence interval


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Alison
  • Z. J. McKeough

There are no affiliations available

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