The urban training intervention increases physical activity in COPD patients

Increasing physical activity in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a key strategy and a major challenge in the fight against this respiratory disorder. According to a study published in European Respiratory Journal, the urban training intervention for COPD patients designed by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has proved efficacious in achieving a significant long-term increase in physical activity.

“So far, interventions aimed at increasing physical activity had focused on the patients’ individual biological and psychological factors. We had already observed that COPD patients who walk the dog or take care of their grandchildren have higher physical activity levels, so we changed perspective in order to propose a customised approach according to each patient’s interpersonal and environmental determinants of physical activity,” explains ISGlobal researcher and lead author of the study Ane Arbillaga.

The urban training project proposes a tailored intervention based on six components:

To assess the efficacy and the effectiveness of this innovative approach, the research team recruited 407 COPD patients in 33 health care centres in five Catalan seaside cities (Viladecans, Gavà, Barcelona, Badalona and Mataró). Participants were divided in two groups. The control group followed standard treatment and recommendations, while the other group followed the urban training in addition to usual care. Analyses revealed that, after 12 months, patients who followed the recommendations of the urban training group increased their physical activity by more than 900 steps per day, as compared to the control group. This is the first time an intervention has been shown to have an effect beyond four months. The Rehabilitation Area of the European Respiratory Society selected this study among the five best in the last 12 months.

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