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Resistance Training vs. Endurance Training in People with COPD

October 20, 2015

Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that makes it hard to breath by obstructing airflow from the lungs. People with COPD often develop skeletal muscle dysfunction, skeletal muscle atrophy, and other chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, and obesity largely due to extended periods of physical inactivity. When it’s hard to perform the simple act of breathing, voluntarily exerting yourself above your
resting level becomes very challenging and very unattractive

COPD-Alveoli-and-Bronchiole-1024x1024To prevent this decline in health, national guidelines recommend endurance and resistance training combat this primary and secondary effects of this disease. In 2015 Lepsen et al., reviewed a total of 8 RCTs that consisted of 328 participants. The researchers’ primary outcomes they compared were quality of life, activities of daily living, dyspnea (shortness of breath), possible harm, total mortality, walking distance, lean body mass, muscle strength, and exercise capacity.

Authors concluded that in people with COPD, resistance training appears to generate similar benefits to endurance training. Further, they suggested that in people with COPD, resistance training may be prescribed as an alternative to endurance training. However, when prescribing exercise programming for this population, fitness professionals should consider the client’s level of exercise tolerance, co-morbid conditions, orthopedic limitations, and long-term goals.


Ridge Personal Trainer Eddie Davila

Eddie Davila, MS, ACSM-RCEP, EP-C, EIM 3, CEAS

About the Author: Ed Davila is the Director of Fitness at the Ridge Athletic Clubs. He is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist & Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. He is also a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist through the Back School of Atlanta.

Article Reference: Lepsen U.W., Jørgensen K.J., Ringbaek T., Hansen H., Skrubbeltrang C., and Lange P. A systematic review of resistance training versus endurance training in COPD. J Cardio Pulm Rehab. May/June 2015; 35(3): 163-172.

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