Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity Levels Early After Lung Transplantation

  • Published on Dec 11, 2014

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

Objectives: 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. Design. This was a prospective cohort study.

Methods: 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).

Results: Thirty-six lung transplant recipients (18 men, 18 women; mean age49 years, SD14) completed post transplant measurements. Before transplant, daily steps were less than a third of the general population. By 3 months post transplant, the largest improvement in physical activity had occurred, and level of daily steps reached 55% of the general population. The change in daily steps (pre-transplant to 3 months post transplant) was inversely correlated with pre-transplant 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.

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


  • Lisa Wickerson 1,2
  • Sunita Mathur 2
  • Lianne G. Singer 1
  • Dina Brooks 2


  • 1

    Toronto Lung Transplant Program, University Health Network, 200 Elizabeth St, 4EC-305, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C4

  • 2

    Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association

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Wickerson PTJ 2014


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