Skeletal muscle dysfunction and physical inactivity are two clinically important features of a wide range of acute and chronic respiratory conditions. Optimisation of both of these features is important in order to improve physical function, prevent clinical deterioration and maximise community participation. One of the most potent and evidence-based interventions to address these physical deficits is pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Whilst the majority of PR research has been conducted in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, there is widespread recognition that PR can benefit many other respiratory patient groups. These include patients with interstitial lung diseases, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, pre-/post-lung surgery (e.g. lung cancer, transplantation) and cystic fibrosis to name a few. Exercise training must be appropriately prescribed by a skilled healthcare professional with comprehensive knowledge of the pathology and physiology of these conditions, as well as a sound understanding of the exercise physiology and core principles of exercise prescription, monitoring and progression. It has also become increasingly recognised that people with respiratory conditions, particularly those with chronic disease, are considerably less active than those of good health. PR should therefore aim to induce behavioural change to facilitate the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle. In addition, PR should pay attention to the psychological well-being of patients and self-management of their lung disease in all its aspects. To that end, multidisciplinary individualised programs should be offered. This review sets the scene of PR principles for a series of papers that will focus on specific diseases other than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease where rehabilitation may offer a clinically important aspect of care over and above conventional pharmacological treatment.
© 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel