HealthDay News — Failing to get regular exercise was associated with a subsequent increase in hospitalizations for exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, results of a prospective study indicate.

The odds of hospitalization for COPD exacerbation rose 2.49-fold in the three years after a shift from a daily walking routine of up to roughly 2 miles per day to none, compared with staying highly active (P=0.004), Cristobal Esteban, MD, of the Hospital de Galdakao-Usansolo, Spain, and colleagues reported in Respirology.

Moving from the highest level of activity measured in the study to any lower activity level also doubled the subsequent risk of hospitalization (OR 2.13, P=0.017), the researchers found.

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They analyzed data from 543 consecutive stable COPD patients at five outpatient respiratory clinics affiliated with a single Spanish hospital to investigate the association between physical activity and hospitalizations for exacerbations of COPD.

Physical activity level, based on the distance walked at least three days per week, was self-reported by patients at baseline and 2-year follow-up. The researchers classified low physical activity as walking less than 1.9 miles (3 km) per day or less, moderate as 1.9 to 3.7 miles (3 to 6 km) daily, and high as anything above that.

The overall rate of hospitalization for exacerbations was higher in COPD patients who had lower levels of physical activity (OR 1.901; 95% CI: 1.090 to 3.317), the researchers found.

Increasing physical activity from none to some did not attenuate the disadvantage of not being highly physically active (OR 1.51 vs. staying in the high category, P=0.645).

“Changes to a higher level of physical activity or maintaining a moderate or high level of physical activity over time, in a low-intensity activity such as walking for at least 3 to 6 kilometers/day, could reduce the rate of hospitalizations for COPD exacerbation,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Esteban C et al. Respirology. 2014; doi:10.1111/resp.12239.