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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Effect of Physical Activity on Individuals who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

 I wonder if the researchers were surprised at the results of this longitudinal study.  I know I was. I would have thought that physical activity would have had a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As I think about it though, maybe cardiovascular disease and diabetes are not substantially reversible after having the problem for a certain amount of time. 

A huge positive that was found was in the area of reducing depression and anxiety. The reason I find value in this finding has to do with how depression and anxiety are traditionally treated. The medications used to treat anxiety increase the risk of falling in older adults. 

Below you will find a quick view of the abstract. 


Physical activity and risk of comorbidities in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cohort study.



Multi-morbidity is common in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and low levels of physical activity are hypothesized to be an important risk factor. The current study aimed to assess the longitudinal association between physical activity and risk of seven categories of comorbidity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. The study included 409 patients from primary care practice in the Netherlands and Switzerland. We assessed physical activity using the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam Physical Activity Questionnaire at baseline and followed patients for up to 5 years. During follow-up, patients reported their comorbidities (cardiovascular, neurological, endocrine, musculoskeletal, malignant, and infectious diseases) and completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire for mental health assessment. We implemented multinomial logistic regression (an approximation to discrete time survival model using death as a competing risk) for our analysis. Study results did not suggest a statistically significant association of baseline physical activity with the development of seven categories of comorbidity. However, when we focused on depression and anxiety symptoms, we found that higher levels of physical activity at baseline were associated with a lower risk for depression (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.85; 0.75-0.95; p = 0.005) and anxiety (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.89; 0.79-1.00; p = 0.045). In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, those with high physical activity are less likely to develop depression or anxiety symptoms over time. Increasing physical activity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients may be an approach for testing to lower the burden from incident depression and anxiety.


STAY ACTIVE TO AVOID DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: Patients with chronic lung disease who stay physically active could reduce their chances of depression and anxiety. Milo Puhan at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and co-workers assessed the association between physical activity and the risk of developing various co-existing diseases in 409 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Co-morbidities such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and depression are prevalent in patients with COPD, but the reasons why are not clear. Puhan's team assessed patients' activity levels using an existing questionnaire, and administered another questionnaire to assess mental health. They followed the cohort for 5 years. Results indicated weak associations between physical activity levels and most physical illnesses, but there were significant links between higher levels of physical activity and a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. The results could inform novel COPD treatment programs.

2017 May 18;27(1):36. doi: 10.1038/s41533-017-0034-x.