New research supports early screening and intervention for even mild lung disease symptoms to help prevent physical inactivity

November 03, 2023

The COPD Foundation encourages exercise for those with chronic lung disease as part of COPD Awareness Month in November

MIAMI & NEW YORK (Nov. 3, 2023) - New research from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation reports that individuals with COPD who experience high levels of symptoms are less likely to be physically active. Exercise is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the long-term impact of this widespread chronic lung disease. The study underlines the importance of COPD screening and early diagnosis for symptom intervention and disease management.

COPD affects more than 30 million Americans and is the third leading cause of death worldwide, yet awareness of the disease's symptoms, methods to reduce risk, and disease management remains poor. COPD symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue, and chronic cough. According to research, regular physical activity can help COPD patients breathe better, feel better, and live longer, more fulfilling lives. COPD patients who are inactive increase their risk of exacerbations, hospital admissions, reduced lung function, and poor quality of life.

A recent study published in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation expanded upon prior research related to exercise and COPD by investigating how a diverse group of Canadians' symptom burdens influenced their physical activity levels. The study found that individuals engaged in less physical activity when they reported a high symptom burden compared to those with milder symptoms. This was true for individuals diagnosed with just “mild” COPD and those previously undiagnosed but experiencing symptoms.

"It can be difficult and scary to exercise while experiencing symptoms like breathlessness," said the COPD Foundation's Vice President of Education and Engagement Stephanie Williams, RRT. "However, regular exercise like gentle yoga and walking - under the supervision of a doctor - can improve COPD symptoms and quality of life for those living with the disease."

This November, the COPD Foundation will celebrate COPD Awareness Month by hosting an exercise challenge and fundraiser to champion COPD awareness and raise funds for critical COPD research. The challenge encourages people to get active for 30 minutes a day every day in November. For more information about COPD and the Lace Up for Lungs Challenge, visit


Study: Oostrik L, Bourbeau J, Doiron D, et al. Physical activity and symptom burden in COPD: the Canadian Obstructive Lung Disease study. Chronic Obstr Pulm Dis. 2023; 10(1): 89-101. doi:

About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help millions of people live longer and healthier lives by advancing research, advocacy, and awareness to stop COPD, bronchiectasis, and NTM lung disease. The Foundation does this through scientific research, education, advocacy, and awareness to prevent disease, slow progression, and find a cure. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The COPD Foundation
Jessica Burke
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