(HealthDay News) — Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who engage in regular physical activity may reduce the rate of hospitalization for COPD exacerbation, according to research published online February 2 in Respirology.

Cristóbal Esteban, MD, of the Hospital de Galdakao-Usansolo in Spain, and colleagues prospectively analyzed data for 391 clinic patients with COPD to investigate the association between physical activity and hospitalizations for exacerbations of COPD. Physical activity level, based on the distance walked at least three days per week, was self-reported by patients.

The researchers found that the rate of hospitalization for exacerbations was higher in COPD patients who had lower levels of physical activity (odds ratio [OR], 1.901; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.090–3.317). COPD patients with the highest level of physical activity who decreased their level of physical activity during three years of follow-up, starting at two years after study enrollment, had an increasing rate of hospitalizations (OR, 2.134; 95% CI, 1.146–3.977).

“Changes to a higher level of physical activity or maintaining a moderate or high level of physical activity over time, in a low-intensity activity such as walking for at least 3–6 kilometers/day, could reduce the rate of hospitalizations for COPD exacerbation,” the authors write.

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