COPD and Exercise

COPD and Exercise

Those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) know how hard exercising might be as their energy may be limited. However, exercise can help improve the quality of life of COPD patients which is why they should try to be as physically active as possible. To learn more, continue reading below.

How is Exercise Beneficial for COPD Patients?

Exercise in general and especially exercise that works the lungs and heart can be extremely beneficial for those with COPD. Namely, such exercise can do the following:

  • Improve the way the body uses oxygen
  • Relieve symptoms and improve breathing
  • Make the heart stronger
  • Reduce blood pressure and boost circulation
  • Boost energy levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Help keep a healthy weight
  • Boost mental and emotional outlook
  • Decrease social isolation
  • Strengthen bones

Top 4 Exercises for COPD Patients

  1. Stretching Exercises

According to experts, stretching exercises should be part of any workout program, including a COPD exercise program. Such exercises will increase your flexibility and balance and help prevent joint stiffness. Just remember that when doing stretches, you should move slowly and smoothly while breathing out gently through pursed lips during the effort phase of the exercise.

  1. Aerobic Exercises

In short, aerobic exercises involve large muscle groups moving at a steady and rhythmic pace. This exercise will work both your heart and lungs and improve their endurance. It will help your body to utilize oxygen better, and over time, will improve your breathing as well. Two great examples of aerobic exercises for COPD patients are walking or using a stationary bike.

  1. Strengthening Exercises

When doing these exercises, one should tighten their muscles until they start to tire. And, performing strengthening exercises for the upper body will help boost the strength of your breathing muscles and thus, with time, improve breathing.

  1. Breathing Exercises

Last but not least, as the name itself suggests, breathing exercises will help COPD patients strengthen their breathing muscles. In turn, they will get more oxygen and breathe with less effort. Pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing are two great examples of such exercises for COPD patients. For best results, do these three to four times a day, up to 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Pursed-lip breathing

To do pursed-lip breathing you should relax your shoulder and neck muscles. Then, inhale for 2 seconds through your nose while keeping the mouth closed. Finally, exhale for 4 seconds through pursed lips.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, one hand on your stomach below your rib cage, and the other hand on your chest. Next, breathe in deeply through your nose for 3 seconds, tighten your stomach muscles, and breathe out for 6 seconds through slightly puckered lips.

Exercise Precautions for COPD Patients

When exercising with COPD, it is always a good idea to be careful although shortness of breath doesn’t always mean that you should quit exercising, but that you should probably exercise at a slower pace or a lower level. Here are some exercise precautions COPD patients should be aware of:

  • Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
  • If your medications change, consult your doctor before continuing your exercise program.
  • Ensure you don’t exercise for at least 90 minutes after eating.
  • Avoid both hot and cold showers after completing your exercise program.