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The benefits of exercise training in interstitial lung disease: protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

Leona Dowman123*, Christine F McDonald345, Catherine Hill13, Annemarie Lee346, Kathryn Barker7, Claire Boote7, Ian Glaspole8, Nicole Goh348, Annemarie Southcott9, Angela Burge6, Rebecca Ndongo23, Alicia Martin7 and Anne E Holland236

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia

2 Department of Physiotherapy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

3 Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Melbourne, Australia

4 Department of Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia

5 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

6 Department of Physiotherapy, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia

7 Department of Physiotherapy, Western Health, Melbourne, Australia

8 Allergy, Immunology & Respiratory Medicine Department, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia

9 Department of Respiratory & Sleep Disorders Medicine, Western Health, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2013, 13:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-13-8

Published: 1 February 2013



Interstitial lung disease encompasses a diverse group of chronic lung conditions characterised by distressing dyspnoea, fatigue, reduced exercise tolerance and poor health-related quality of life. Exercise training is one of the few treatments to induce positive changes in exercise tolerance and symptoms, however there is marked variability in response. The aetiology and severity of interstitial lung disease may influence the response to treatment. The aims of this project are to establish the impact of exercise training across the range of disease severity and to identify whether there is an optimal time for patients with interstitial lung disease to receive exercise training.


One hundred and sixteen participants with interstitial lung disease recruited from three tertiary institutions will be randomised to either an exercise training group (supervised exercise training twice weekly for eight weeks) or a usual care group (weekly telephone support). The 6-minute walk distance, peripheral muscle strength, health-related quality of life, dyspnoea, anxiety and depression will be measured by a blinded assessor at baseline, immediately following the intervention and at six months following the intervention. The primary outcome will be change in 6-minute walk distance following the intervention, with planned subgroup analyses for participants with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, dust-related interstitial lung disease and connective-tissue related interstitial lung disease. The effects of disease severity on outcomes will be evaluated using important markers of disease severity and survival, such as forced vital capacity, carbon monoxide transfer factor and pulmonary hypertension.


This trial will provide certainty regarding the role of exercise training in interstitial lung disease and will identify at what time point within the disease process this treatment is most effective. The results from this study will inform and optimise the clinical management of people with interstitial lung disease.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000416998

Interstitial lung diseases; Diffuse parenchymal lung diseases; Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias; Asbestosis; Sarcoidosis; Hypersensitivity pneumonitis; Connective tissue diseases; Exercise; Rehabilitation