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Vibration Training Improves Exercise Capacity in COPD Patients

08th December 2016
Vibration training improves exercise capacity in COPD patients

COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease appears when the bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrower than normal, and mucus accumulates inside them, making it difficult for patients to breathe.

Along with the obstruction of the air, the clogging of the bronchial tubes causes impairments in the delivery of oxygen to all body parts and tissues, so COPD affects not only the respiratory system but the entire body.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease experience symptoms that make it difficult for them to practice conventional exercises, such as wheezing, shortness of breath or persistent cough, so they tend to abandon physical activities over time and to stick with a more sedentary lifestyle.

This creates a vicious cycle in which the capacity of the lungs and the amount of oxygen delivered to the organs gets reduced even more, so the energy levels and the exercise capacity of these patients decreases as well. For these reasons, COPD patients don’t usually practice high intensity exercises like cardio exercises or strength training that require a lot of effort from them.

However, whole body vibration seems to be better tolerated and to have positive effects on these people, according to a new study published by German scientists in the journal of Respiratory care. Their study investigated the effects of low-volume whole body vibration therapy on exercise capacity, compared with conventional calisthenics exercises, in patients with COPD.

The randomized controlled trial included 29 subjects with mild to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, who were assigned to either a whole body vibration or a calisthenics training group, the latter performing relaxation and breathing exercises as well. Both groups followed the treatment for 3 months, doing 2 sessions of 30 minutes per week.

The measured parameters showed significantly greater, clinically relevant improvements in the exercise capacity of the whole body vibration group compared to the calisthenics group. No side effects were experienced, so the conclusion of this study was that low-volume WBV exercises could be a viable alternative to conventional exercises in patients with COPD.

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