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Refraining from exercise and exercise accelerates the course of the disease in COPD
With chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD; also known as smoker's cough), those affected tend to refrain from moving due to their breathing difficulties, but this can have an adverse effect on the course of the disease. Because sport and exercise have a significant influence on the development of COPD, according to the result of a study that was presented at the beginning of March at the congress of the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP).
According to the experts, patients with COPD should do enough physical activity despite the difficulty in breathing. Because the presented study by Dr. Benjamin Waschki of the LungenClinic Grosshansdorf near Hamburg shows that regular exercise and sport can have a beneficial effect on the course of the disease, according to the DGP. On the other hand, anyone who protects themselves physically runs the risk of dramatically accelerating the course of the disease. The study results were published in the specialist journal "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine". At the DGP Congress, Dr. Benjamin Waschki received the research award for clinical research for his work.
If there are signs of COPD, see a doctor immediately
According to the DGP, between three and five million people in Germany suffer from COPD. "Around 90 percent of them are or used to be smokers," said the association. COPD is often played down as a smoking lung, explains private lecturer Henrik Watz, head of the Pneumological Research Institute at LungenClinic Grosshansdorf, in the DGP press release. "For symptoms such as a long-lasting cough with viscous mucus and difficulty breathing, those affected should immediately consult a doctor," the expert warns. Because these symptoms could be signs of a chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract and a beginning breakdown of the alveoli (so-called pulmonary emphysema). As a result of the resulting over-inflation of the lungs, the lung respiratory organ increasingly loses its function.
Protection accelerates the breakdown of the muscles
Due to the impaired lung function, people with COPD suffer from increasing shortness of breath, which initially only shows when they are under stress, but later also occurs when at rest. According to Dr. Watz "therefore most patients tend to be physically gentle." This could dramatically accelerate the course of the disease. Because the fewer patients with COPD who are physically active in everyday life, the faster the muscles are broken down, which in turn drastically reduces physical resilience. Through the long-term study by Dr. Waski on 200 COPD patients, this effect is confirmed. For the study, the researchers had provided all subjects with a bracelet for a week that recorded their physical activity in everyday life at home. A new measurement was taken after two to three years. It has been shown that the patient's performance with less exercise decreased significantly faster, the researchers report.
15 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is sufficient
The European Respiratory Society had already published a statement two years ago which called for avoidance of poor posture in COPD patients. "Patients are often more productive than they think," emphasizes Henrik Watz. In addition, several long-term studies have shown that even small amounts of physical activity can reduce the mortality rate of patients with chronic diseases. In his opinion, a moderate training program should be part of immediate treatment. Patients must start to put more weight back on as early as possible, and this is best done at an early stage of COPD, Watz demands. According to him, “walking or Nordic walking 15 to 30 minutes faster a day may be enough to have a positive impact on the patient's course of the disease. (fp)