Exercise – but what kind?

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

You have heard it from everyone for years! You must exercise! You must keep your body in shape to help overcome the weakness of your lungs! Refusal to make the efforts necessary can only serve to invite the exacerbations, the illnesses that are waiting to attack you …

Well, okay, say you! Bring it on! I am sick of hearing about it and will undergo an exercise regimen because I know that I should, because it will be good for me, but mainly due to the fact that I am sick of your nagging me about it! But what? Everyone talks about treadmills, with varying degrees of hatred, but are they really that good? Exercise bikes? How about weights? Surely not weights?

Let’s face it. Not many of us with weak lungs are going to do terribly well in a CrossFit class. On the other hand, to do nothing is to accomplish nothing. If we hope to maintain a decent quality of life, we have to find activities that will keep us strong and flexible, able to get through our day without wasting too much oxygen.

So, it stands to reason that some sort of balanced program of exercise will benefit more of the muscles than will simply trudging on a treadmill for an hour or so. The mechanical road is good exercise, make no mistake. However, walking out in the world offers the chance to balance on uneven surfaces without the aid of handrails. The challenge of balancing while propelling ourselves forward serves to work muscles that would otherwise be allowed to waste.

And, as our daughter, the psychotherapist, points out, there is a proven psychological benefit to getting outdoors in the whole nature thing. Suck it up, gather your oxygen equipment if it has been prescribed, and get out there!!!

Resistance training, the lifting of weights, in turn allows us to do more of it. Many of our activities require hefting stuff of various sizes and weights. The less effort it takes, the more energy we have to do stuff that we really want to do! If our arm muscles and our shoulder muscles and our legs are stronger, then we will be able to get up out of our chair, off of the couch without embarrassing ourselves. In some of the classes that Mary and I have taught over the years, I recommend practicing the moves necessary to arise from the floor, should you ever find yourself down there. And, as the joke says, look around to see what else you can do while you are down there …

So, put in the miles on the treadmill or the exercise bike … it is so much better than nothing. In addition, I really recommend balancing the regimen out with some walking outside, a bike ride, some work on the big muscles. If you have free weights, great! The rubber exercise bands do a good job of resistance work, and they are easy to pack. If all else fails, grab a couple of cans of beans and use them!

I honestly believe that it was a dedication to exercise that kept me alive long enough to go for a transplant, it was that dedication that helped me to qualify, that aided me in my recovery, and that has allowed me to survive for the seven years since then.

~ 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. 

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

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