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Keywords:

  • Activities of daily living;
  • exercise;
  • lung transplantation;
  • rehabilitation

The effects of exercise training after lung transplantation have not been studied in a randomized controlled trial so far. We investigated whether 3 months of supervised training, initiated immediately after hospital discharge, improve functional recovery and cardiovascular morbidity of patients up to 1 year after lung transplantation. Patients older than 40 years, who experienced an uncomplicated postoperative period, were eligible for this single blind, parallel group study. Sealed envelopes were used to randomly allocate patients to 3 months of exercise training (n = 21) or a control intervention (n = 19). Minutes of daily walking time (primary outcome), physical fitness, quality of life and cardiovascular morbidity were compared between groups adjusting for baseline assessments in a mixed models analysis. After 1 year daily walking time in the treated patients (n = 18) was 85 ± 27 min and in the control group (n = 16) 54 ± 30 min (adjusted difference 26 min [95%CI 8–45 min, p = 0.006]). Quadriceps force (p = 0.001), 6-minute walking distance (p = 0.002) and self-reported physical functioning (p = 0.039) were significantly higher in the intervention group. Average 24 h ambulatory blood pressures were significantly lower in the treated patients (p ≤ 0.01). Based on these results patients should be strongly encouraged to participate in an exercise training intervention after lung transplantation.