© 2015 ERS. The present study aims to disentangle the independent effects of the quantity and the intensity of physical activity on the risk reduction of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) hospitalisations. 177 patients from the Phenotype Characterization and Course of COPD (PAC-COPD) cohort (mean±SD age 71±8 years, forced expiratory volume in 1 s 52±16% predicted) wore the SenseWear Pro 2 Armband accelerometer (BodyMedia, Pittsburgh, PA, USA) for eight consecutive days, providing data on quantity (steps per day, physically active days and daily active time) and intensity (average metabolic equivalent tasks) of physical activity. Information on COPD hospitalisations during follow-up (2.5±0.8 years) was obtained from validated centralised datasets. During follow-up 67 (38%) patients were hospitalised. There was an interaction between quantity and intensity of physical activity in their effects on COPD hospitalisation risk. After adjusting for potential confounders in the Cox regression model, the risk of COPD hospitalisation was reduced by 20% (hazard ratio (HR) 0.79, 95% CI 0.67-0.93; p=0.005) for every additional 1000 daily steps at low average intensity. A greater quantity of daily steps at high average intensity did not influence the risk of COPD hospitalisations (HR 1.01, p=0.919). Similar results were found for the other measures of quantity of physical activity. Greater quantity of low-intensity physical activity reduces the risk of COPD hospitalisation, but highintensity physical activity does not produce any risk reduction.