A loss of physical functioning (i.e., a low physical capacity and/or a low physical activity) is a common feature in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To date, the primary care physiotherapy and specialized pulmonary rehabilitation are clearly underused, and limited to patients with a moderate to very severe degree of airflow limitation (GOLD stage 2 or higher). However, improved referral rates are a necessity to lower the burden for patients with COPD and for society. Therefore, a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals and scientists proposes a new model for referral of patients with COPD to the right type of exercise-based care, irrespective of the degree of airflow limitation. Indeed, disease instability (recent hospitalization, yes/no), the burden of disease (no/low, mild/moderate or high), physical capacity (low or preserved) and physical activity (low or preserved) need to be used to allocate patients to one of the six distinct patient profiles. Patients with profile 1 or 2 will not be referred for physiotherapy; patients with profiles 3-5 will be referred for primary care physiotherapy; and patients with profile 6 will be referred for screening for specialized pulmonary rehabilitation. The proposed Dutch model has the intention to get the right patient with COPD allocated to the right type of exercise-based care and at the right moment.