In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reduced levels of daily physical activity are associated with the degree of impairment in lung, peripheral muscle, and central hemodynamic function. There is, however, limited evidence as to whether limitations in tidal volume expansion also, importantly, determine daily physical activity levels in COPD. Eighteen consecutive patients with COPD [9 active (forced expiratory volume in 1 s, FEV1: 1.59 ± 0.64 l) with an average daily movement intensity >1.88 m/s2 and 9 less active patients (FEV1: 1.16 ± 0.41 l) with an average intensity <1.88 m/s2] underwent a 4-min treadmill test at a constant speed corresponding to each individual patient's average movement intensity, captured by a triaxial accelerometer during a preceding 7-day period. When chest wall volumes, captured by optoelectronic plethysmography, were expressed relative to comparable levels of minute ventilation (ranging between 14.5 ± 4.3 to 33.5 ± 4.4 l/min), active patients differed from the less active ones in terms of the lower increase in end-expiratory chest wall volume (by 0.15 ± 0.17 vs. 0.45 ± 0.21 l), the greater expansion in tidal volume (by 1.76 ± 0.58 vs. 1.36 ± 0.24 l), and the larger inspiratory reserve chest wall volume (IRVcw: by 0.81 ± 0.25 vs. 0.39 ± 0.27 l). IRVcw (r2 = 0.420), expiratory flow (r2 change = 0.174), and Borg dyspnea score (r2 change = 0.123) emerged as the best contributors, accounting for 71.7% of the explained variance in daily movement intensity. Patients with COPD exhibiting greater ability to expand tidal volume and to maintain adequate inspiratory reserve volume tend to be more physically active. Thus interventions aiming at mitigating restrictions on operational chest wall volumes are expected to enhance daily physical activity levels in COPD.