YOUR CONDITION DOESN’T have to limit your ability to exercise.
Do you live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? If you do and you can’t remember the last time you routinely exercised, it might be time to re-evaluate your fitness routine, or start a new one.
While exercise won’t reverse the effects of COPD, it can improve how you feel and function in everyday life. Regular exercise has been shown to improve high blood pressure and decrease your risk of other cardiovascular diseases. Over time it can also improve your circulation, prompting your body to do a better job of utilizing oxygen.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Before starting any kind of exercise program, talk with your doctor. Your primary care doctor knows your condition and your medical history, and will be able to recommend the best way to begin this process.
Other things to remember include:
Start gradually. If you don’t usually exercise, ease yourself into whatever routine you choose rather than jumping in with both feet on the first day.
Educate yourself on pursed-lip and diaphragmatic breathing strategies, as these will help you deal with breathless feelings and any anxiety that may accompany them.
Include a warm-up and a cooldown period in your exercise routine to take proper care of your muscles.
Listen to your doctor’s advice, especially when starting out. Don’t try to do too much. As your fitness level increases, you will begin seeing benefits such as decreased feelings of breathlessness.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Some exercise options include:
Yoga—Not only will practicing yoga build core strength, the stretching involved prepares your muscles for other activities and increases your flexibility, making you more mobile.
Walking/running—Aerobic activity improves your breathing over time, making it easier to continue exercising and lowering your overall blood pressure. Walking or running don’t require any more equipment than a pair of well-fitting athletic shoes.
Bicycling—If you have knee problems, or would prefer a low-impact form of exercise, cycling is a good option for aerobic activity.
In order for exercise to be effective—and easy to continue—you need to incorporate it into your daily routine. Once you do that, you may even find yourself enjoying it!
Remember—if you enjoyed an exercise before you were diagnosed with COPD, you can probably still participate in it. Talk with your doctor or a certified fitness instructor about how to modify exercise routines to fit your current abilities.