Supervised exercise through pulmonary rehabilitation can help improve the condition of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study.
Richard Casaburi, at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), has found that supervised exercise can reduce the feelings of breathlessness, increase the tolerance for exercise, and improve quality of life in COPD patients.
Casaburi surveyed previous studies on pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD, and found that supervised exercise therapy improves aerobic function of the muscles, which helps reduce the breathlessness that is common in COPD.
"These findings are a clear indication that pulmonary rehabilitation can improve the quality of life for those living with COPD," said Casaburi.
He added: "The studies also indicate that pulmonary rehabilitation results in decreased anxiety and depression for COPD patients because they find they can exercise more, and they enjoy the feeling that they have mastered something important in their lives."
COPD is a group of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
While the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation programs for COPD are well documented, the study has reported that access to this type of therapy is limited, especially among lower-income, minority and rural populations.
Casaburi said: "A major stumbling block in providing pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD has been the lack of adequate funding for it. That should begin to change next January, when Medicare starts providing coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD."
The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.