Exercise and COPD

*By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc.

~ Prior to my transplant, I was fortunate enough to go through a pulmonary rehab program at a local hospital. I enjoyed the program and learned some new things about respiration, medication, diet, and the like. The nurses were wonderful, and unfailingly supportive.

I was surprised and disappointed to learn that many of my fellow “rehabees” did little or nothing outside of the rehab sessions to maintain or improve either their knowledge or their physical condition. As one man stated, “The only exercise I get at home is walking from my recliner to the bathroom!”

There seems to be a real cycle at work with the average COPD patient. Any effort brings shortness of breath, which results in feelings of despair and hopelessness. These feelings deter the patient from exercising, for fear of breathlessness and the attendant feelings. The lack of exercise leads to a deterioration of muscle tone and weakness in the cardiovascular system that naturally leads to even greater aversion to any effort to exercise. These harmful cycles can result in depression, isolation, and less independence. There is also danger of a weakened immune system, making it more difficult to prevent and recover from infections.

No, COPD cannot be cured by exercise. It cannot be reversed by exercise. But exercise, regardless of its intensity, will build up your other muscles, making it easier to perform your daily tasks with less shortness of breath. Please believe me when I tell you that it works! The feelings of satisfaction and control alone are worth the effort!

The exercises necessary for anyone with compromised lungs include aerobic exercises to increase oxygen flow to your muscles, and weight-bearing activities for both upper and lower body. It is important to maintain proper oxygen saturation while exercising, to avoid the danger to various vital organs, such as your heart or brain. Fingertip pulse oximeters are available to keep track of your pulse and your saturation level.

If you have been prescribed supplemental oxygen, be sure to use it while exercising. Turn it up to a level that will maintain your saturation, as determined by your doctor.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. People with COPD may have other health problems that can limit exercise options. If you become breathless while exercising, rest in a position with your shoulders supported (such as in a chair) and wait until you can breathe easily again.

Always have a warm-up and cool-down. This is a good time for stretching gently and loosening your muscles to help avoid injury.

Breathe in through your nose, especially if you are using oxygen. Exhaling through pursed lips, as though you are trying to blow out a candle, will help to keep the bronchial passages within your lungs open.

If you can get into a pulmonary rehabilitation program, I urge you to do so. The support, knowledge, and exercise routines will make it well worth your time.

Exercise is hard, but it makes everything else so much easier!

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearableportable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

To learn more about the CAIRE oxygen therapy solutions speak to an oxygen advisor at 1-877-704-0878 or visit www.cairemedical.com.

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.

By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.

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