Aerobic exercise training improves autonomic nervous control in patients with COPD.

Borghi-Silva A, Arena R, Castello V, Simões RP, Martins LE, Catai AM, Costa D

The purpose of the present investigation is to assess the effects of a 6-week aerobic exercise training program on autonomic modulation of heart rate in patients with COPD. Forty patients of both sexes with moderate-to-severe COPD were randomly allocated to aerobic exercise training or to usual care. The training program consisted of lower and upper limb stretching and 30min of treadmill exercise, 3 times per week for a 6-week period. Physiological data during symptom-limited exercise testing and the six-minute walk test (6MWT) were assessed.

The results showed that neural control of heart rate, in addition to other clinically valuable measures, is positively altered in moderate-severe COPD patients following 6 weeks of aerobic exercise training. The improvement in submaximal performance after exercise training was associated with parasympathetic activity.

Respir Medicine, 2009 May 21, online article ahead of print

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