Physical training moves mountains in COPD. An interview study in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Elisabeth Bomholt Østergaard, Anne Dal Kristiansen, Pernille Maja Thomsen, Anders Løkke

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalpeer-review


Only few people in Denmark with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) engage in physical activity even though there is evidence that pulmonary rehabilitation has positive effects on physical activity level, dyspnea, anxiety, fatigue and quality of life.
The purpose of this study is to explore why people with COPD do not engage in physical activity and to explore motivational factors and barriers to promote physical activity.
We conducted fieldwork among five people with COPD in Denmark 2013-2015 using qualitative semi-structured interviews. Supplementary unstructured interviews with three doctors, and participation in a closed Facebook-group for people with COPD. We made a thematic analysis (13) and our analytical perspective was theories about The Health Belief Model (14) and Self Determination Theory (15).
Findings reveal that one of the main reasons for not being physically active early rather than late in the course of COPD was that people with COPD did not receive the necessary information from the general practitioners about the benefits of physical training neither about the negative consequences of an inactive lifestyle. Motivational factors for living a physically active life were first of all knowledge about COPD and the benefits of physical training. Other motivational factors were experiencing the benefits on their own bodies, experiencing that it was not dangerous to feel breathless and being successful coping with breathlessness. Functional tests were very important for persons with COPD because they showed the positive progress and were much easier to comprehend than spirometry tests.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that people with COPD receive early information about the benefits of physical training, as it can lead the way to experience the benefits on your own body as a boosting and great motivational factor.
Translated title of the contributionFysisk træning flytter bjerge, når man har KOL
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Pages (from-to)76-77
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • physiotherapy
  • COPD


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