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Physical activity in COPD

Programme to enhance physical activity in people with COPD.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and results in substantial and increasing economic and social burden.

Approximately 7% of the population of developed countries suffers from COPD, and the problem is also growing in developing countries. An estimated 3.7 million people live with COPD in the UK and it is predicted to increase by one-third by 2030, costing the NHS £1.2 billion per year.

Someone exercising in trainers

People who have COPD feel better and are less likely to be admitted to hospital if they can improve their fitness.

Attending pulmonary rehabilitation classes – exercise training – has been shown to improve fitness and keep people out of hospital. However, the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation seem to wear off after a period of time.

It is now possible to measure people’s activity using small devices called activity monitors which people can wear on their clothes. Some of these devices can have exercise targets set by a physiotherapist and can let people know when they have hit their target.

We wanted to see if giving people with COPD who had been attending pulmonary rehabilitation this sort of information about their daily activity encouraged them to keep fitter for longer.


To do this we carried out a trial where half the people got their usual care (the pulmonary rehabilitation) and the other half got pulmonary rehabilitation along with daily feedback on their activity using a special activity monitor (DirectLife) and a coaching website.

At the end of the study, we measured their activity and fitness to see if this had made any difference.


Results will be available in the autumn of 2018.

Interventions to modify physical activity in patients with COPD: a systematic review (European Respiratory Journal, 2016)


Funder Philips, The Netherlands
Chief Investigator Leandro Cruz Mantoani, PT, PhD student
Principal Investigator Dr Roberto A Rabinovich
Co-applicants Prof Brian McKinstryProf William MacNee, Shalu Saini, Susan McNarry, Susan Mullen
Study Researchers Leandro Cruz Mantoani, Noah Rubio