Thursday, April 7, 2011

People diagnosed with life-threatening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can live longer by simple exercises

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  People diagnosed with life-threatening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can live longer by simple exercises like moving hands and legs for a few minutes every day.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD for short is a major cause of death in many parts of the world, including India. In COPD patients the functioning of lungs is badly affected and gradually leads to premature disability and death. Since lungs are hit in COPD patients, their ability to work is impaired.

An Indian group of lung experts including Dr Subin and Dr Vaishali Rao from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, has conducted a study on the role of hand and leg movement in improving the quality of life of COPD patients. As lungs are affected, supply of oxygen to body parts including muscles is also hit. This makes it difficult for COPD patients to do even their regular work. They develop fatigue quite easily.

COPD is the most common lung disorder in India after pulmonary tuberculosis. One-third of patients reporting to chest hospitals are diagnosed of this severe health problem.

The group, which studied a number of COPD patients, found that certain set of exercises lasting for about six to 10 minutes a day will improve lung functioning and thus the patients' quality of life. The research found that the upper limb exercise training for patients with COPD increased upper limb work capacity, improved endurance, and reduced oxygen consumption at a given workload.

"The simple upper limb exercises include throwing a ball against the wall with arms above horizontal in sitting position, passing a beanbag over the head in sitting position, moving a ring across a wire without touching the wire, while arm was above horizontal," said Dr Vaishali Rao.

As part of the study these exercises were performed for 40 seconds followed by 20 seconds rest. Exercises were repeated four times in four minutes.

According to Dr Rao, the study showed an improvement in upper limb endurance time. Arm training resulted in increased upper limb endurance.  "This might be due to improved synchronisation and co-ordination of accessory muscle action during unsupported arm activity".

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