COPD Symptoms Improve With Supervised Exercise

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

COPD researcher, Richard Casaburi, Ph.D., M.D., from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, found evidence supporting supervised aerobic exercise to improve symptoms of COPD and increase quality of life for COPD patients.

The study authors reviewed previous evidence showing that pulmonary rehabilitation improves exercise tolerance and increases aerobic muscle function, for patients with COPD. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reviews the effect of supervised exercise to decrease breathlessness for those suffering from COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the US.

Dr. Casaburi says, “The studies also indicate that pulmonary rehabilitation results in decreased anxiety and depression for COPD patients because they find they can exercise more, and they enjoy the feeling that they have mastered something important in their lives."


Well-documented evidence exists about the benefits of exercise programs for patients with COPD, but access to programs is limited because of lack of funding to support pulmonary rehabilitation centers.

The good news is beginning next January Medicare will provide coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation, making exercise programs for COPD patients more accessible.

According to the report, 8 million physician office visits, 1.5 million emergency department visits and 726,000 hospitalizations were the result of COPD.

Reference: NEJM