One-legged exercise for COPD

Researchers from West Park Healthcare Centre Toronto in Ontario ask, is there any benefit from one-legged exercise, at half the load of two-legged exercise in people with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD)?

First, the details.

  • 18 patients with COPD were randomly assigned to 2 groups.
  • Both trained on a stationary cycle for 30 minutes, 3 days/week, for 7 weeks.
    • Two-legged trainers cycled continuously for 30 minutes.
    • One-legged trainers switched legs after 15 minutes.
  • Intensity was set at the highest tolerated and increased with training.

And, the results.

  • Both groups increased their training intensity and total work significantly.
  • After training, the changes in peak oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen intake, and ventilation in the one-legged group was significantly greater compared to the two-legged group.

The bottom line?
The researchers concluded, “Reducing the total metabolic demand by using one-legged training improved aerobic capacity compared with conventional two-legged training in patients with stable COPD.”

The authors also tell us that one-legged cycling required no special training. Patients found it at least as comfortable as two-legged training, probably because leg fatigue is better tolerated than difficulty breathing.

Also, it was possible to combined one-legged training with other strategies to improve exercise tolerance, such as supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilatory assistance, or heliox (combined helium and oxygen breathing).

8/7/08 18:52 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.