Original Paper

Irish Journal of Medical Science

, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 231-232

First online:

Effect of once weekly pulmonary rehabilitation on exercise tolerance in patients with chronic lung disease

  • B. M. O’NeillAffiliated withSchool of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Ulster, Belfast City HospitalPhysiotherapy Department, Belfast City Hospital Email author 
  • , D. JohnstonAffiliated withPhysiotherapy Department, Belfast City Hospital
  • , N. BurrellAffiliated withPhysiotherapy Department, Belfast City Hospital
  • , J. MacMahonAffiliated withDepartment of Respiratory Medicine, Belfast City Hospital

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Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programmes improve exercise tolerance and reduce breathlessness in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


A retrospective audit was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the pulmonary rehabilitation programme at Belfast City Hospital (BCH).


Data from 74 patients who completed a six-week PR programme were reviewed. Exercise tolerance was assessed by the shuttle walk test (SWT), and breathlessness by the BORG scale. Paired t-tests were used for within group analysis.


The mean (SD) exercise tolerance assessed by the SWT improved significantly as did duration of individual exercises. Patients were able to exercise more without increasing their breathlessness or heart rate.


This paper highlights the effect of PR on exercise tolerance and breathlessness in patients with chronic lung disease. The results compare favourably with published literature where more frequently supervised exercise sessions were provided.