Nowadays, COPD is no longer considered a disease which affects only the lung. It is regarded as a complex inflammatory process which affects all organs during the course of the disease. Exercise capacity decreases and physical activity becomes more and more exhausting (breathlessness and other symptoms). The strain on organs increases to the same extent. Consequently, even everyday life becomes an unachievable continuous work effort accompanied by maximum physical strain.
Physical rest - whether due to breathlessness or over longer periods of time due to frequent infections - has a significant effect on exercise capacity and the course of the disease. In general, the exercise capacity reflects the structural and functional state of, among other things, the cardio vascular system and the muscles.
Fig. 1: Possible courses of exercise capacity with reference to aging
Compared to changes in the lung which cannot be stopped, exercise capacity can be influenced relatively well. In order to achieve this, physical activity e.g. in training is necessary. Only if implemented systematically and regularly can training have different effects on certain organs, no matter what degree of severity or age.
Fig. 2: Possible improvements in exercise capacity due to physical training. (Expressed in watts for guidance)
Getting in shape can increase exercise capacity e.g. to a level that enables one to cope with every day life again (independence in old age). A normal day does not make you tired any more and an active lifestyle is re-enabled. Improving exercise capacity also means "preservation" for a longer period of time (e.g. years). Physical training is the most important and effective non-drug measure that can be taken to influence the course of the disease.