During the international pulmonary fibrosis week in September 2017, the Dutch Pulmonary Fibrosis Society handed out free pedometers to IPF patients. According to Lida Naber, coordinator of the association, the pedometers might encourage patients with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) to be more active. 'You already see results when you start walking twenty minutes every day. It can make the difference between feeling worn-out and feeling fit.'
I thought the idea of encouraging PF patients to be more active was really good
Because of lung fibrosis week, the pulmonary fibrosis association organized several educational meetings in cooperation with multiple Dutch hospitals. 'We mused about something nice to do for PF patients', Lida says. 'Every year, we hand out a little gift during these events, like a notebook or a bag. However, this year we celebrated a lustrum, as we organized these meetings for the fifth time, so we wanted to do something special.' Lida thought of the '2000 Steps a Day Challenge', an initiative from the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association (ILFA). 'I heard about this project when I met with some people of the Irish association at a European meeting', Lida says. 'The idea of this challenge is to motivate PF patients to incorporate an extra 2000 steps into their daily routine. The ILFA won the Irish Healthcare Award for the best patient organization project of the year with their initiative, and I thought the idea of encouraging PF patients to be more active was really good.'
people with a pedometer are more motivated to be active and feel fitter
The Dutch association decided to hand out free pedometers at the events at the hospitals, together with instructions of how to use them. 'Recently, a Dutch report (Living with a lung disease, NIVEL 2017, see: https://www.nivel.nl/sites/default/files/bestanden/Leven-met-longziekte-Nederland.pdf) was published which said that about half of the people with a rare lung disease would like to be more active, Lida says. 'All they need is a little encouragement to get off the couch. And there is also research being done right now, that shows that people with a pedometer are more motivated to be active and feel fitter. So there is both a need for something like this and a possibility to meet this need.'
According to Lida, a pedometer is a cheap and effective way to become more aware of how active you are. 'Taking a twenty minute-walk can just make the difference between feeling worn-out and feeling fit. And apart from the exercise, it can also be a social event. For example, you can ask a neighbor to walk along with you. This also raises more awareness of your disease in your direct environment: people can actually see how quickly you get out of breath.'
In the future, the association wants to reach out to all the participants from the meetings that got a pedometer, to ask them for feedback on their experience with the pedometer and whether they were able to maintain the extra activity it encourages. 'Maybe we can collect interesting data this way and we can publish something about it', Lida says. 'We would like to show that you can accomplish a lot with simple measures, without the need for long write-ups or advisory committees. This is a pragmatic action and I hope it will be beneficial for PF patients.'