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Exercise training programs lead to improvement in the quality of life and exercise capacity in patients diagnosed with fibrosing interstitial lung disease.

Interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) are characterized by fibrosis and inflammation of the pulmonary parenchyma. Permanent and diffuse fibrous lesions of the alveolar parenchyma and lung lesions are common features of fibrotic interstitial lung diseases (f-ILDs). The most prevalent f-ILD subtype is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Impaired pulmonary circulation and gas exchange lead to exercise limitations in this disorder. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) for patients with ILDs includes exercise training (ET).

This case-control study, published in PLoS One, compared the outcomes of different aerobic ET programs on exercise capacity, quality of life, and respiratory performance in individuals with f-ILD. A total of 31 patients diagnosed with f-ILD were included in this study. While 11 patients were included in the control group, the remaining 20 patients were equally assigned to the lower limb endurance training program (LL) and the upper limbs, lower limbs, and breathing exercises program (ULB) for 18 sessions with 3 weekly sessions for 6 weeks.

According to the study results, 30% of the patients in each ET group were known to have collagenic-associated ILD and fibrosing non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP). These patients had moderate-to-severe restrictions in the lungs. Both the St George’s respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ) and the 6-minute walk test (6-MWT) significantly improved following either of the ET programs. Significant improvement in peak oxygen consumption (VO2), minute ventilation (VE), and maximal workload was observed in both ULB and LL training programs. After ET programs, no improvement was observed in ventilation equivalent or forced vital capacity. The authors did not find any significant differences between ULB and LL training programs based on cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), 6-MWT, and SGRQ.

In summary, ET programs improved the quality of life and exercise capacity in individuals diagnosed with f-ILD, regardless of the types of these programs.

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Essam, H., Abdel Wahab, N. H., Younis, G., El-Sayed, E., & Shafiek, H. (2022). Effects of different exercise training programs on the functional performance in fibrosing interstitial lung diseases: A randomized trial. PloS One, 17(5), e0268589. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0268589