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A Randomized, Controlled Trial Comparing Long-term and Short-term Exercise in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Berry, Michael J. PhD; Rejeski, W. Jack PhD; Adair, Norman E. MD; Ettinger, , Walter H. Jr MD, MBA; Zaccaro, Daniel J. MS; Sevick, Mary Ann ScD, RN

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation: January-February 2003 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 60-68
Pulmonary Rehabilitation

PURPOSE To compare the effects of short-term (3 months) and long-term (18 months) involvement in an exercise program on self-reported disability and physical function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

METHODS A total of 140 patients with COPD were studied in a randomized, single-blinded clinical trial. Self-reported disability and physical function were assessed using a 21-item questionnaire, a 6-minute walk, timed stair climb, and an overhead task.

RESULTS At the completion of the trial, participants in the long-term intervention reported 12% less disability than those in the short-term intervention (adjusted mean with 95% confidence interval, 1.53 (1.43-1.63) versus 1.71 (1.61 to 1.81) units, respectively;P = .016), walked 6% farther during 6-minutes (1815.0 [1750.4-1879.6] vs 1711.5 [1640.7-1782.3] feet, respectively), climbed steps 11% faster (11.6 [11.0-12.2] vs 12.9 [12.3-13.5] seconds, respectively), and completed an overhead task 8% faster (46.8 [44.4-49.2] vs 50.4 [47.8-53.0] seconds, respectively) than those in the short-term intervention.

CONCLUSION An 18 month exercise program results in greater improvements in self-reported disability and physical function in patients with COPD when compared with a 3-month exercise program. As such, long-term exercise should be recommended for all patients with COPD.

From the Department of Health and Exercise Science (Drs. Berry and Rejeski); Section on Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine(Dr. Adair); and Department of Public Heath Sciences (Drs. Ettinger and Sevick and Ms. Zaccaro); Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Address correspondence to: Michael Berry, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winson-Salem, NC 27109 (e-mail:

Winston-Salem, NC 27109 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.