ESSA releases position statement on the benefits of exercise on COPD

Today Exercise & Sports Science Australia is proud to announce the launch of our latest position statement on exercise and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term for a group of progressive lung conditions that causes narrowing of the airways in the lungs which blocks airflow making it difficult to breathe. Affecting over one in four Australians aged over 75 years, COPD remains one of the major causes of disability and death in the world.

Among other symptoms, COPD decreases exercise capacity in those living with the disease which then leads to a reduction in health-related quality of life.

This latest ESSA position statement developed by a group of Australian researchers outlines the role of exercise training in a range of settings for individuals with COPD. It provides health practitioners with broad evidence-based guidelines for exercise-training in this ever expanding population.

Exercise offers a wide range of benefits for individuals living with COPD, including:
  • Increased exercise capacity
  • Increased health-related quality of life
  • Reduced breathlessness
  • Improved arm, body and leg muscle strength
  • Improved balance
  • Improved mood and self-confidence
  • Reduced hospitalisations for exacerbation
There is emerging evidence in the COPD population that alternative modes of exercise training such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), aquatic-based therapy, tai chi and neuromuscular electrical stimulation improves exercise outcomes when compared to no exercise.

This position statement outlines that, for individuals with COPD, an exercise program of aerobic and strength exercises delivered over at least an 8-week period, that engages lower and upper body skeletal muscles, will deliver significant health improvements.

It’s important to note that exercise programs should be individualised, prescribed and delivered by an appropriately qualified exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, who will take into consideration relevant co-morbid conditions and are experienced in clinical exercise prescription.

Click here to access the Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) position statement on exercise and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you, visit ESSA’s online directory.