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Health Education Blog

What You Need To Know About Exercising With COPD

Posted by Staff on July 19, 2017

people on exercise equipmentChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term that describes a variety of progressive lung diseases, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and non-reversible asthma. This condition causes:

  • Wheezing

  • Frequent dry coughing

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Increased breathlessness

According to the COPD Foundation, there are over 30 million people in the United States who suffer from COPD. Regardless of your health issues, regular exercise is very important to prevent obesity, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of other serious health problems. If you are suffering from COPD, you should know how exercise affects your condition and how to exercise safely.

Benefits of Exercise

According to the Cleveland Clinic, exercising regularly can be very beneficial if you are suffering from COPD. A few of the benefits include:

  • Regular exercise can improve your COPD symptoms, especially aerobic exercise.

  • Exercise can reduce the tension, stress, and anxiety associated with COPD.

  • Exercise can improve your circulation, which will help your body use oxygen.

  • Exercise can lower your blood pressure.

  • Your heart and cardiovascular system can be strengthened with exercise.

Questions To Ask a Health Care Provider

Before you start a regular exercise regimen with COPD, you should visit a clinic to discuss an exercise regimen such as Orchard Hospital's Medical Specialty Center - Your Everyday Health Care Clinic. The professionals at Orchard Hospital can give you advice regarding exercise. There are a few questions that you should ask.

  • Is there a limit on the amount of exercise that I should do in one day?

  • Is there a limit on the amount of exercise that I do in a week?

  • Are there any exercises that I should avoid?

  • Are there certain exercises that will improve my condition?

  • Are there any medications that I should take before I exercise?

What Types of Exercise Should I Include in My Workout?

There are three basic types of exercise, and each one can be included in your workout routine. Each type is safe if you are suffering from COPD.

  • Stretching: It is a good idea to stretch before you start working out to keep from pulling a muscle during your workout. Regular stretching will also increase your flexibility or range of motion.

  • Cardio: Cardio is any type of exercise that gets your heart and blood pumping. This is especially good if you have COPD because it improves your body's ability to use oxygen. A few common cardio exercises include jogging, biking, walking or running on the treadmill, using an elliptical, and jump roping.

  • Strength Training: Strength training is especially helpful for people with COPD because these exercises will help strengthen your respiratory muscles.

Basic Guidelines to Follow if You Have COPD

Since COPD can affect the way that you breathe, it is very important to follow a few specific guidelines so that you can be sure that you are exercising safely.

  • If your doctor recommends it, be sure to take your medication at least 30 minutes before your workout.

  • Exercise at a steady pace.

  • Don't push yourself. If you are struggling to breathe, take a break.

  • Drink liquids to stay hydrated during your workout, however, if you have a fluid restriction guideline, you should stick to it.

  • Keep an exercise record. If you struggle to breathe during a workout, be sure to include it in the record.

  • Exercise when you have the most energy, which for most people is in the morning. If your COPD symptoms flare up at a certain time of day, choose another time of day to exercise.

  • If you are climbing the stairs for exercise, always hold onto the railing.

  • If you are using an elliptical or a treadmill, always hold on.

Breathing During Exercise

It is important that you focus on your breathing when you exercise. This is especially true if you have COPD. There are a few guidelines that you should follow regarding your breathing.

  • Inhale for 2 to 4 seconds. If this is too difficult, try taking two short breaths before exhaling.

  • When exhaling, you should keep your lips pursed and breathe out slowly. This will permit complete lung function which is important if you have COPD.

  • If you are struggling to breathe when you are exercising, focus on your breathing. Try to slow it down and focus on exhaling.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

If you find that you are struggling to breathe while you are exercising, you shouldn't give up. Pulmonary rehabilitation could be an option that will help you breathe more easily while you are working out. There are a few things that go into pulmonary rehabilitation such as exercise training, breathing retraining, counseling, and education. If your doctor believes that you are a candidate, you should consider this treatment. It will help you breathe better so that you can make your workout safer and more fun.

Just because you suffer from COPD, it doesn't mean that you cannot get the exercise that you need to look great and feel great. Most doctors tell their COPD patients that they should exercise because it can be helpful with the symptoms. Before you start a regular exercise regimen, you should first speak to your doctor. You should also know the exercise guidelines so that you can be safe during your workout.

The outpatient AIRE Program (Accessible Intervention and Respiratory Education) at Orchard Hospital is designed to help you gain knowledge of your lung disease, manage your breathing problems and improve your exercise tolerance. In turn, this will help you to achieve your optimal ability to carry out activities of daily living, regain independence and improve your overall quality of life.

The outpatient AIRE program at Orchard Hospital can help you breathe easier and live better.

Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior healthcare. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.

Topics: COPD

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