Feature Article

Optimising function in COPD: physical activity and pulmonary rehabilitation

Jennifer Alison, Sue Jenkins



National and international guidelines strongly endorse the benefits of physical activity and exercise training via pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD.

Key Points

  • Physical activity levels are reduced in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Lower physical activity levels in patients with COPD are associated with poorer outcomes.
  • People with COPD should be encouraged to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which includes exercise training and education, is an essential component in the management of COPD.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation improves exercise capacity and quality of life, reduces hospitalisations for acute exacerbations and may improve physical activity levels.
  • All people with COPD should be offered pulmonary rehabilitation.