African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Exercise rehabilitation in pulmonary patients: a review

I. Shaw, L. Lategan


Although aerobic exercise (specifically lower-body) continues to be the most popular mode of exercise for pulmonary rehabilitation, many lung patients report disabling symptoms for daily activities involving the upper extremities. The principal difference between aerobic training and resistance training (RT) modes of exercise in pulmonary patients is that aerobic training is directed at improving cardio-respiratory function, while RT is primarily aimed at improving the mechanical function (muscle strength and endurance) of the respiratory musculature. Recently, there has been a revival of interest in the interaction between arm exercise and pulmonary function. Although upper body RT could be considered as part of a comprehensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme for lung patients, many studies have suggested that arm exercises are more stressful than leg exercises in terms of cardio-respiratory requirements, and should thus be excluded. According to several researchers, upper body RT programmes that attempt to improve pulmonary function values should not only emphasize the inspiratory and expiratory muscles, but also the muscles that impact on the shoulder girdle. A review of current literature indicates the need to further investigate the role of upper body RT on pulmonary function.

Key words: Lung function, pulmonary function, resistance training, respiratory muscles, upper body resistance training.

(Af. J. Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance: 2003 Special Edition: 165-172)

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