The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Making exercise a regular part of your routine is hard.
With many of our schedules getting busier and busier, fitting in time to work out often feels impossible. Not to mention, when you’re running all day long, sometimes you’re just too tired to put on your exercise clothes at the end of it all and work up a good sweat.
Making the decision to regularly exercise is even more difficult when you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. After all, if you’re already having trouble breathing comfortably, it feels counterproductive to make your lungs work even harder.
But research has found that having a regular exercise program can actually help with COPD.
Exercise and Lung Health
In fact, one piece of research published by the West Haven Department of Veterans Affairs in Connecticut found that just 8 to 12 weeks of exercise offered pulmonary benefits for up to two years.
Another study in Respiratory Research points out the fact that being physically inactive comes with negative consequences for COPD sufferers. These include being hospitalized more often and an increased risk of an all-too-early death.
So, how do you find a happy medium and get enough physical activity to be healthy but not so much that it harms your COPD?
COPD Exercise Options
According to the American Lung Association, there are three types of exercise that are good for those with COPD.
Cardio is any exercise that gets your heart pumping and your body sweating because you’re moving constantly. Often called aerobic exercise, this type of workout is good for your lungs by making them stronger and more efficient.
If you are just starting out or have severe lung issues, a lower intensity type of aerobic exercise like walking or biking may be best. Aim for a few minutes at a time a few days a week and then work up from there.
And if you’re on oxygen and unable to go long distances, even regularly walking around the house or around the block can help. Just ask your doctor first about your flow rate during exercise as it may need to be adjusted.
A second type of exercise that is good for COPD is strength training, also referred to as resistance training. This involves either lifting weights, using resistance bands, or working against your own body weight in order to build muscle and the way this helps COPD is by strengthening the muscles that are responsible for helping you breathe.
Again, if you’re new to strength training, it is beneficial to start slow. You don’t need to buy any fancy or costly equipment either as you can work your legs by simply doing squats or lunges and you can work your arms and chest by doing modified pushups or bicep curls with water bottles or soup cans.
This is one area of exercise that many people forget, but keeping your muscles flexible can help improve lung health as well. Research confirms this as one study found that individuals with COPD who did aerobic exercise mixed with stretching had decreased issues with shortness of breath.
Some stretches to add into your day include:
- Side stretches, bending your whole body to one side and then to the other
- Neck stretches, turning your head from side to side
- Thigh stretches, pulling your ankle up behind you and holding it
- Lower back stretches, sitting on the floor, legs outstretched, and reaching forward
One Final Note…
Before beginning an exercise program of any kind, it’s important to check with your doctor first to ensure that exercise is safe for you to do. Once you get the okay, remember to start slow so you can get your body used to being active. This can help you improve your health and wellness safely and effectively.
Finally, if at any point you feel an unusual shortness of breath, tightness or pain in your chest, lightheaded, dizzy, or nausea, stop immediately. And if it persists, seek medical attention to ensure that you’re okay.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute offers a variety of cellular therapy options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 or fill out the form to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.
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