Don’t Let COPD Hold You Back!

Jan 24, 2013
Tagged with: Don't Let COPD Hold You Back!

Do you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? If so, any exercise can seem intimidating and challenging. Here’s the good news, though: moderate exercise can be good for your health and lung function, especially in the early stages of COPD.

The Stage I (mild) and Stage II (moderate) COPD categories, according to the 2012 GOLD Guidelines, actually specify physical activity as a helpful therapy for lung health. Together with physical rehabilitation and bronchodilator medication use, regular exercise can help maintain and improve lung function.

Exercise may become more difficult as COPD enters the Severe Stage, and can be virtually impossible in Stage IV (Very Severe). To prolong lung health and enjoy physical activity while you are still able, consider upping your activity level and incorporating simple exercises into your daily lifestyle.

Tips for Increasing Physical Activity with COPD

Exercising with COPD can help reduce symptoms of your illness by improving your ability to breathe and increasing your energy—making it easier for your body to accomplish tasks without getting tired. If you have COPD, consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. He or she can tell you how much and which types of exercise are appropriate for you.

In general, consider following the tips below to up your physical activity levels without obsessing over gym time.

  • Make exercise part of your social life. This means taking a walk with the neighbors, swimming with friends, dancing on weekend dates, and canoeing on vacations. When you incorporate physical activity into your social and relaxation time, exercise seems less like a chore and more like a gift.
  • Stay active around the house. Keep doing your own lawn care and snow shoveling, take extra trips to put away the laundry, and don’t be afraid to dance a bit when you vacuum or mop. Better still, consider purchasing a collapsible pedal set to exercise your arms and legs while watching television, or take up at-home yoga or tai chi with low-cost videos.
  • Welcome a little inconvenience into your life. This doesn’t mean you have to spend two hours on a bus instead of taking a quick drive somewhere, but it could mean parking at the end of a lot and walking into the store from a distance. Alternatively, it could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator or carrying the grocery bags instead of pushing them in a cart. Do simple, little things that involve a bit of effort—the activity adds up quickly!

With extra physical activity in your routine, you may notice your symptoms considerably less often within a very short time period. Gradually build up to a physically active lifestyle to avoid over-taxing your lungs and heart if you are not currently active. Also be sure to warm-up and cool-down to avoid injuring your muscles when you are going to do more than basic activity. Pay attention to your body’s need for oxygen and rest, and follow the recommendations of your physician for strength and aerobic exercise.

th[8]Before you know it, you will be leading a full and active lifestyle despite your COPD diagnosis. Happy hiking!

Author: Katie BrindAmour