Regular exercise is a vital part of good lifestyle practices, even if you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is defined as chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Concept of ‘exercise while suffering from COPD’ is scary for such patients. One might feel like it is not safe, or even imaginable to exercise; but the right amount and form of exercise has many rewards. Learning the basics of exercising when you have COPD will get you well on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. It is always advisable to start slow and gradually build up on the intensity of the exercise. Make sure you have taken your prescribed medications appropriately. Here’s why exercise can help you feel healthier, and some of the exercises for patients with COPD.

Why You Must Exercise?

Physical activity can help people with COPD in many ways, including:

  • Allowing your body to use the Oxygen you breathe more efficiently
  • Increasing energy levels and decreasing weakness
  • Strengthens muscle function
  • Increasing capability to walk long distances
  • Decrease in shortness of breath
  • Cultivating cognitive function
  • Boosting your overall quality of life

Types of Exercises:

  • CARDIO: As you move constantly during cardio, it helps increase the heart rate and causes your body to sweat. Also known as Aerobic Exercise, this is good for your Lungs as it strengthens and makes them more efficient. Start-off with low intensity exercises, as breathing may be challenging. Walking is a great option, especially when you’re just getting started. Start off with short walks – outside your home or on a treadmill. If it looks daunting, add 40 seconds of walk each day; even a slow start will do you good
  • CYCLING: Start pedalling in the privacy of your home or in a gym. Ask the trainer before jumping into a group cycling class; to be sure it matches your ability. As you progress, try a swirl outside on a traditional bike
  • DEEP INHALING: A key technique used to strengthen your Diaphragm which is the breathing muscle. Lie down with your knees bent and place one hand on your chest and the other below your rib cage. Gently inhale through your nose which will cause your stomach to raise one hand; exhale by pursing your lips and tightening your stomach. The hand on your chest should remain motionless. If your do this 3-4 times a day for 5 to 10mins, your breathing will ease and you will soon be able to do this automatically

Identifying Signs of Overexertion: Discontinue exercising if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Unusual level of shortness of breath
  • Chest uneasiness
  • Stiffness or heaviness in your chest
  • Rapid increase of the heart beat
  • Light headedness
  • Nausea
  • Feeling more tired than usual

Lastly check with your doctor before preparing an exercise program. If any exercise makes you short of breath, stop and rest for a few minutes.

 (Disclaimer: Dr Preyas Vaidya, Consultant Pulmonologist, SL Raheja Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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