Physical Activity May Reduce Anxiety, Depression in COPD

Risk of developing mental health issues were found to be lower in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients who are more active.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who engage in high levels of physical activity are less likely to develop anxiety or depression, according to a recent study.

There is a high prevalence of comorbidities in patients with COPD, and low physical activity is believed to be a key risk factor. Furthermore, low physical activity is a critical feature of COPD.

In a new study, researchers included 409 patients from primary care practice in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Physical activity was assessed at baseline using the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam Physical Activity Questionnaire, and followed patients for up to 5 years.

During the follow-up period, participants reported their comorbidities, such as cardiovascular, cancer, hormonal, musculoskeletal, neurological, and infectious diseases, and completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire to assess their mental health. The results of the study showed that COPD patients who had higher levels of physical activity at baseline were associated with an 11% reduced risk of developing anxiety over the next 5 years, and 15% reduced risk of developing depression.

There were no other statistically significant associations of physical activity with the other categories of comorbidities that were observed.

“In COPD patients, those with high PA [physical activity] are less likely to develop depression or anxiety over time,” said study authors. “PA promotion programs may be considered to lower the burden of mental disorders in COPD patients. These findings have particular significance since mental disorders are common in patients with COPD. The prevalence of depression and anxiety is approximately 40% in COPD patients while the corresponding figure is less than 10% in the general population.”

The study’s findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London.