A new study published in the journal BMC Pulmonary Medicine revealed that patients with bronchiectasis tend to have an inactive, sedentary lifestyle. The study is entitled “Sedentary behavior and physical activity in bronchiectasis: a cross-sectional study” and was conducted by a team of researchers at several universities and health centers in the United Kingdom.
Bronchiectasis is a respiratory condition characterized by a chronic inflammation that usually results from an infection or other condition that injures the walls of the airways, causing irreversible airway dilatation and scarring. In bronchiectasis, the airways slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus, so it accumulates in the lungs, creating an environment prone to bacteria growth that can lead to severe lung infections. Sputum production, chronic cough and recurrent chest infections are signs of the disease.
Physical activity is known to be associated with health benefits and reduced mortality. In the case of patients with bronchiectasis, there is no specific evidence of the benefits of physical activity, although it has been reported to be linked to mortality rates and overall lung health in other pulmonary disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The research team conducted a cross-sectional study (NCT01569009) with 63 bronchiectasis patients to assess the impact of the disease in physical activity and sedentary behavior. The team evaluated physical activity by monitoring patients for seven days through an ActiGraph device (GT3X+ accelerometer), a system that was shown to be valid and reliable in populations with respiratory conditions. Patients also fulfilled questionnaires on health-related quality of life and attitude regarding physical activity, and were submitted to spirometry (a lung function test) and the modified shuttle test (MST, a measure of exercise capacity).
Researchers found that, on average per day, patients spent 634 minutes on sedentary behavior, 207 minutes on light-lifestyle physical activity, and 25 minutes on moderate to vigorous physical activity. Patients were classified according to their physical activity into inactive (42%), low active (29%) and somewhat active (29%). Only 11% of the patients were found to meet the internationally recommended physical activity guidelines that suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. In terms of disease severity, the team found that patients with moderate to severe bronchiectasis (severity index of five or greater) spent a considerable less amount of time in moderate to vigorous physical activities, had fewer daily step counts, lower activity energy expenditure and lower MST scores in comparison to patients with mild disease.
“These findings are important as recent research has suggested a link with inactivity and decreased survival, poorer [health-related quality of life] and increased health care utilization in chronic disease populations such as COPD and diabetes,” wrote the research team according to a news release. “Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that a high level of sedentary behavior is associated with adverse health outcomes in chronic disease populations.”
The team concluded that bronchiectasis patients have a more sedentary lifestyle with less physical activity than what is recommended for promoting and maintaining a healthy condition. The authors also emphasize the need to tailor healthy lifestyles interventions in this patient population and propose “that it may be important to focus on behavior change techniques and other behavioral strategies such as motivational interviewing rather than exercise training alone if targeting a decrease in sedentary behavior as well as improved physical activity levels in patients with bronchiectasis.”