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Endurance Training – Lower Limb

Mode | Intensity | Duration | Frequency | Type


Continuous or Interval Training

  • Exercise may be continuous or completed in an interval format.
  • Continuous training is exercise at a prescribed intensity for the duration of the exercise period.
  • Interval training is brief periods of high intensity exercise alternated with short periods of recovery (either rest or low intensity exercise). The total duration of exercise at the desired intensity still needs to be completed, therefore the duration of the exercise session will be longer (accounting for rests) than if the exercise was performed continuously.
  • Interval training may be preferable for patients who cannot sustain the prescribed intensity for the required duration of continuous exercise (i.e. due to severe dyspnoea, marked oxygen desaturation during exercise, signs of significant fatigue or presence of symptoms from co-morbid conditions, eg claudication pain).
  • Intermittent training may be needed in patients with severe disease or those who are very deconditioned. Intermittent training is short duration continuous exercise (e.g 5 minutes) followed by a rest and repeated to build the prescribed duration.


Circuit Training

  • A training circuit can be prescribed, that includes flexibility, stretching and balancing exercises.
  • Circuit training should not replace lower limb endurance training unless there are stations within the circuit that replicate endurance training (e.g. 15 minutes of cycling and 15 minutes of walking at appropriately high intensities).
  • At present, there are no randomised controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of circuit training in patients with COPD.


Warm-up and Cool-down

  • Warm-up and cool-down exercises can be included in exercise training sessions.
  • Flexibility, stretching and balance exercises can be included as part of the warm-up and cool-down section of each exercise session.