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Phys Ther. 2015 Apr;95(4):517-25. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20140173. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

Physical activity levels early after lung transplantation.

Author information

L. Wickerson, BScPT, MSc, PhD(c), Toronto Lung Transplant Program, University Health Network, 200 Elizabeth St, 4EC-305, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C4, and Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
S. Mathur, BScPT, MSc, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto.
L.G. Singer, MD, Toronto Lung Transplant Program, University Health Network, and Department of Medicine, University of Toronto.
D. Brooks, BScPT, MSc, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto.



Little is known of the early changes in physical activity after lung transplantation.


The purposes of this study were: (1) to describe physical activity levels in patients up to 6 months following lung transplantation and (2) to explore predictors of the change in physical activity in that population.


This was a prospective cohort study.


Physical activity (daily steps and time spent in moderate-intensity activity) was measured using an accelerometer before and after transplantation (at hospital discharge, 3 months, and 6 months). Additional functional measurements included submaximal exercise capacity (measured with the 6-Minute Walk Test), quadriceps muscle torque, and health-related quality of life (measured with the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey 36 [SF-36] and the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire).


Thirty-six lung transplant recipients (18 men, 18 women; mean age=49 years, SD=14) completed posttransplant measurements. Before transplant, daily steps were less than a third of the general population. By 3 months posttransplant, the largest improvement in physical activity had occurred, and level of daily steps reached 55% of the general population. The change in daily steps (pretransplant to 3 months posttransplant) was inversely correlated with pretransplant 6-minute walk distance (r=-.48, P=.007), daily steps (r=-.36, P=.05), and SF-36 physical functioning (SF-36 PF) score (r=-.59, P=.0005). The SF-36 PF was a significant predictor of the change in physical activity, accounting for 35% of the variation in change in daily steps.


Only individuals who were ambulatory prior to transplant and discharged from the hospital in less than 3 months were included in the study.


Physical activity levels improve following lung transplantation, particularly in individuals with low self-reported physical functioning. However, the majority of lung transplant recipients remain sedentary between 3 to 6 months following transplant. The role of exercise training, education, and counseling in further improving physical activity levels in lung transplant recipients should be further explored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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