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The Effect of Strength Training on Functional Fitness in Older Patients with Chronic Lung Disease Enrolled in Pulmonary Rehabilitation


  • Jeffrey L. Alexander PhD,

    Assistant Professor, Corresponding author
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    • Jeffrey L. Alexander, PhD, is an assistant professor at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ.

  • Wayne T. Phillips PhD FACSM,

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    • Wayne T. Phillips, PhD FACSM, is founder and CEO of AgeWell Initiatives, Gilbert, AZ.

  • Carolyn L. Wagner BSN BS RN

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    • Carolyn L. Wagner, BSN BS RN, is a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation staff nurse at Banner Heart Hospital, Department of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Mesa, AZ.


The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a strength training-enhanced program and a traditional pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) program on functional fitness (FF) in older patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), using the Senior Fitness Test. Twenty patients were recruited from an outpatient PR program. After completing baseline measures, including muscular strength and the Senior Fitness Test, patients were randomly assigned to the strength training program (TR+ST, n = 10) or traditional PR program (TR, n = 10). Patients completed 16 exercise sessions that were conducted twice a week for 8–10 weeks, after which patients repeated outcome measurements. Independent t tests were conducted to determine whether groups differed between measures. Both the TR+ST and TR groups improved on all FF measures. Moderate effect sizes were found for two of the FF measures when the groups were compared. The addition of strength training to PR may have a favorable impact on FF in older patients with COPD.

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